Jill Washburn, community service coordinator, 406.238.7394,
RMC Media Team, 406.657.1105,

RMC students provide mentoring to children in the community

BILLINGS, April 2 – Rocky Mountain College students are embodying the school’s core themes of academic excellence and transformational learning by transforming the lives of children in the community through the Bear and Cub mentoring program. Spearheaded by RMCs Community Service Coordinator Jill Washburn, the program is a three-part initiative between Yellowstone County Big Brothers Big Sisters, Highland Elementary School, and Rocky Mountain College. 

A small group of RMC students have committed at least one day a week for a minimum of six months to mentor a child at the neighboring Highland Elementary School. The children are each unique and need something individual from the mentoring, RMC junior Jennifer Murphy said. The students come from a variety of backgrounds, they may have adverse home conditions, have difficulty in school, or just need a solid role model in their lives. Murphy has been participating in Bears and Cubs for the past year and had previously worked as a peer instructor and work study student at Highland as part of her elementary education major. Murphy is specializing her degree with a minor in reading, and it’s already coming in handy with her “little cub” at Highland. 

Murphy said she was drawn to the program after participating in RMCs Campus Compass program, and she now works each week to help a child with projects, reading, and even just to talk. The program has helped her to realize how much of a difference one person can make when they take the time to work with children, she said. And, “how important it is for [the kids] to have a friend even if [they are] a different age.”

The program is still in its infancy, having started in the fall, but the demand for Rocky students is increasing. “The only complaint is that we want more [Rocky] students!” said Highland Principal Jeri Heard, who is an RMC alum from the master of educational leadership program. There are six elementary school students on a waiting list for a “Big Bear” to help out.

“It’s such a win-win situation,” Heard said of the partnership; the elementary students get the mentoring and friendship that they need, and the college students get real-world experience and have an impact in their community.