High Point, NC -- A program at Oak Hill Elementary School is giving kids a chance to serve as role models while helping themselves and their peers.
The school has a mentoring program in which fifth grade boys serve as mentors to younger students in grades K-3.
Assistant Principal Ashton Clemmons said the boys who serve as mentors struggled with behavior before they started the program.
"A lot of them were academically behind and so they were avoiding engaging in difficult work by being defiant or having attitudes," said Clemmons.
"A lot of office referrals from this group of students and this year we're seeing drastically decreased official referrals. The students are more successful in class so therefore they're feeling less threatened and more able to participate academically and socially with their peers," she added.
LeAnthony Jones, one of the fifth grade mentors, said, "I like helping my mentee do what he's supposed to do and like when he needs help with something I can help him."
The school worked with the boys to show them how they can be leaders. The fifth grade students participate in weekly activities with the younger students they mentor. The children have adult mentors of their own who meet with them.
The adults even work with the boys on life skills like manners.
"We have little by little improved lives in this program and that's what education is about, that's what Oak Hill is about, it's what we are all here to do, is improve the lives of these children and their families," said Clemmons.
She said it's rewarding to see improvements within families because the kids' behavior has improved.
Clemmons said, "Hearing the mom be able to say positive things about a child when last year and past years it was constant negativity."