Mentoring Students to Find Their Passion
Profile of MESA Advisor Jess Augden
When school teacher Jess Augden talks about the MESA students in her chapter, her face lights up, her eyes brighten, and she can’t help but smile. She is an educator committed to the growth, learning, and the overall well-being of her students. Jess is a sixth-grade math and science teacher at Alder Creek Middle School in Milwaukie, Oregon. She has been leading the MESA program at her school for six years, ensuring program accessibility for students by providing bilingual chapter meetings. She shepherds students as they explore and participate in MESA activities, and in many cases, mentoring them in other aspects of their lives.
Reflecting on pre-covid times, Jess shared a unique story about a student who was having a particularly hard time in school and wasn’t able to find success in any content area. He was often displaying unpredictable behavior, couldn’t make it through a class, and was regularly being asked to go to the office by his teachers.
“He wandered into MESA, picked up an Arduino kit and started tinkering with it. At that moment, he found his zone.” Jess observed him carefully, noticing that he had an interest in this educational tool, and encouraged him to stay at MESA and participate. The student returned to MESA week after week, showing enthusiasm for the program and a commitment that had not been present before.
Jess shared with enthusiasm, “When we transitioned to distance learning due to the pandemic, this student became the liaison between me and the MESA office. He was regularly emailing the MESA office to check in and get updates — and he was just on it. He would come to our MESA meetings and tell us everything he found out.”
By participating in MESA, this student was able to find a place where he belonged, where he could be successful, and where he could shine like he never could before. “He was wildly successful with his teams, with his coding progress, and with his ability to participate,” she notes with a smile.
Through the MESA program, Jess gives students the opportunity to find their talents, hone their skills, build relationships with other students, and improve their confidence and self-esteem. One of Jess’ favorite aspects of the program is the relationships she builds with students and families. “It’s a huge honor to build a foundation of trust with students and their families.”
Jess serves not only as a mentor and advisor for her students, but as a key person in their lives who cares about supporting them and helping them grow to reach their full potential.