Mentoring Program at Hamilton Heights Teaches Students to Give Back

Students from Hamilton Heights High School who are a part of the Teach One to Lead One mentoring program took the leadership skills they have learned in the classroom and put them to work at the International Disaster Emergency Service (IDES) in Noblesville this past Thursday. That’s when 21 students, along with 11 mentors and one teacher, mixed and packaged enough food to feed over 5,000 people. Amazingly, they did it all in one hour!

Teach One to Lead One is a unique mentoring program that takes place in the classroom each week throughout the school year. It pairs community volunteers with teachers to lead students through 10 universal principles. The principles include respect, integrity, self-control, courage, humility, excellence, compassion, enthusiasm, teamwork, and honor. The students were able to put these principles to use when they went on a service project at IDES. 

IDES provides relief to people who are hurting worldwide. That relief is often in the form of help to victims of natural disasters, refuges displaced by violence and oppression, malnourished people, villages living without clean water, medical care, clothing, and shelter, to name just a few of their services. Jody England, IDES GAP Director explained to the students that the food they were packaging would be sent to the island of Haiti to feed children and their families. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. He explained how each bag of food would feed six people. The meals consisted of a mix of rice, soy, dried vegetables, and a supplement of 21 essential vitamins and minerals. They are easily mixed with water and provide nutrition that is sorely lacking in Haiti.  

Joe Brackemyre, the Volunteer Coordinator for IDES, helped organize the Hamilton Heights students and adults into three teams. Freshman teacher, Dee Roper, helped on one of the food lines. “This is amazing to see our kids work together like this,” she said. Brackemyre challenged them to put together enough food packs for 5,000 meals in one hour. They exceeded that goal, packing 5,472 meals into bags and boxes. 

One of the students had confided in Mrs. Roper that he had not really wanted to come to the service project, but did so out of respect for the mentors. After it was over, the same student approached her and said, “This has been the best day! I didn’t see this coming!”

Students who participate in Teach One to Lead One mentoring are taught to be leaders. IDES provided a very practical and necessary experience for them. “No one was on the sidelines, standing around, waiting to be told to get to work,” said Joe Rudy, one of the mentor volunteers. “They were awake, alert, and having fun. They took hold of this project and didn’t quit until the job was done. These students are amazing!” 

Hamilton Heights is the first Teach One to Lead One mentoring program in Indiana. 

For more information on IDES, including how you can volunteer with them, visit their web site at