Fresno Unified students start mentoring club for middle schoolers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno Unified student is giving the word "mentor" a whole new meaning.

What started as a few students hoping to make a difference, quickly developed into dozens of Edison high schoolers mentoring middle schoolers throughout the community. iMentor! is much more than just a tutoring program -- it's about empowering these students socially, emotionally and academically.

Edison High School senior Michael Fung is the founder of iMentor.

"I had a rocky transition to high school and a lot of kids struggle with the same thing," explained Fung.

As a sophomore, he launched iMentor! with a few friends, hoping to help middle school students as they prepare for high school.

"Some of these kids I notice when talking to a 40-year-old adult they're like, I don't know, I'm not too talkative," added Fung, "but we really see them come out of their shell and ignite the best version of themselves."

Each mentor is paired with a mentee from one of four Fresno Unified middle schools.

"We focus on three main points of empowerment," said Fung. "Social, emotional support and their transition to high school."

"We go over to these schools and they're so happy to see us," said mentor Matthew Pitcher. "We always have these fun games and educational lessons for them as well."

The group hasn't slowed down, moving online and adding more mentors amid distance learning.

"We have lessons planned based on their needs and our experiences as well so they can relate to them," explained Fung.

Now, the program is back in person with roughly 40 mentors and 60 mentees across the Fresno Unified district.

"It's been a really humbling experience connecting with the kids," said Pitcher. "I've learned patience from all these kids and you really get to know their background."

"Really having them become the best version of themselves is our main goal," said Fung.

The mentorship program is free for middle school students and mentors are paid by Fresno Unified. For details on how your student can get involved either as a mentor or mentee, you can contact the group at iMentorclub@gmail.com.
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