A Michigan International Prep School student works at the Howell learning lab.

The role of the mentor at Michigan International Prep School

When you hear Online or Virtual Learning, one of your first thoughts may be how impersonal it must be. Michigan International Prep School (MIPS), a tuition-free K-12 virtual charter school for Michigan residents, is striving to break that stereotype with a multilayered approach. 

First, MIPS has their own content teachers that connect with the students through Live Learning Sessions and the teachers actually grade assignments instead of just leaving it to a computer. The teachers are available to the students and contact them regularly. Second, MIPS has drop-in Learning Labs where students can come to get face to face help from a teacher or tutor and connect with other students. But maybe the most personal layer of a MIPS online education is that each student is assigned a mentor who is by their side every step of the way.

Brenda Van Eck

MIPS mentors are trained to support students in all aspects of their educational journey and actively advocate for them at all times. The mentor-student relationship starts as soon as a student is enrolled and ready to begin classes. The role of the mentor is to take the stress away so the student can focus on their education. The mentor reaches out to the student at least once a week to see how they are doing and the student knows they can go to their mentor with any questions they have. 

The mentor tries to get to know each student and their situation personally so they can offer the best possible help along the way. Mentors are there to challenge a student to reach that next goal as well as say “great job” when the student reaches that goal. The mentor may help an advanced student set up a schedule to graduate early, or work with a struggling student to understand the next assignment. Mentors give younger students strategies to help them stay focused and progressing. Mentors help older students look into career options and what it will take to work in their desired field. Somedays mentor-student conversations include “get well” wishes when a student or someone in their family is sick or even “happy birthday” wishes for a celebrating student. 

Over time, the mentor-student connection grows beyond just covering the basics to a level where the mentor feels like they have a bond with the student and they hope the student feels the same. The mentor provides the student with encouragement, praise, motivation, guidance, or just a listening ear if needed. The mentor is available to answer any questions parents may have as well. 

Online learning does require a student to be self-directed, but it doesn’t have to be done by yourself. MIPS is working hard to create an online learning experience that is personal and effective so that you are never alone as you learn. We are your neighborhood school, online!

Michigan International Prep School has a drop-in location in Howell at 114 W. Highland Road. For information on the school, click here.

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