The new school year is kicking into gear, and so is our expanding Mentoring Program. This past summer, the program ventured into uncharted waters with a successful pilot program in the juvenile justice systems of Clark and Greene counties that will now be a permanent part of our program.
Mentoring Program Director, Julie Driskill, and Greenon Mentoring Program Coordinator, Bryan Moore, led six-week pilot programs for youth at both locations.
“I think I learned as much as they did,” said Driskill. “It amazes me that the kids have so much potential, but they are often written off as troublemakers. They have dreams and goals and have just been buried in a lot of things, and they have made mistakes. But many of the students were brilliant, well-spoken and just wanted somebody to believe in them. It’s really about helping them to understand that they have value and something to give back, even in the midst of their poor decisions,” she added.
The Mentoring Program began with a group of volunteers at Tecumseh wanting to make a difference. This fall, programs at Tecumseh and Greenon middle and high schools continue, starting by mid-September. Also, we will be running our 4th and 5th grade “Making A Difference” projects, helping those students begin to understand who they are and how they fit into their families and communities.
As students enter middle school, an adult mentor can meet with them one-on-one once a week during the school day. Together they discuss concerns and challenges the mentees face and work on some of the solutions and coping skills. The mentors are volunteers from the local community who help our youth understand their value and begin their journey to their long term goals.
Middle school students also have the option of being in the peer listening program, engaging kids in peer listening with students from the high school. This allows our middle school youth to have a role model who will help them enter high school on a positive note.
The DEFY teen mentoring program will be starting its sixth school year at Tecumseh High School, focusing on leadership skills for the high school students after school.
“This bridges their home life and goes beyond just knowledge and gives them a vision for the future,” said Driskill. “It helps them understand who they are and connect what they are learning to where they want to go. It builds confidence while participating in activities that require them to get out of their comfort zone. (The question we teach them to ask themselves is) am I an influence or am I being influenced?”
The Greenon program hits the ground running in its first full school year, starting with individual mentors for middle school youth and working with the 4th and 5th graders in the “Making a Difference” program. Newly trained mentors from Speedway will be joining the program in it’s initial stages.
“We just want them to get an opportunity to make better decisions for themselves,” said Moore. “It’s baby steps, especially when you are just establishing a program. We hope to add a DEFY team by the spring and more students." Moore specializes in helping 10 through 12th graders understand their long term goals and work with them with businesses during high school to obtain their dream jobs or colleges to help them obtain the jobs they want to have.
If you would like to volunteer in our Mentoring Program or donate to helping it reach more kids, please call our office at (937) 845-0403.