Schools, students need mentors

Coordinator available to guide volunteers

August 21, 2013 

How can you help decrease absenteeism and behavior problems, and increase the graduation rate in our schools? How can you help improve our students' emotional/psychological well-being, peer relationships, academic attitudes and grades? Give one hour a week to mentor a child.

Numerous studies show that mentoring produces all these benefits and more.

What is mentoring? At its most basic level, mentoring is a positive relationship between an adult and a young person. It is also an opportunity for students to be exposed to adults who grew up in similar surroundings and who made choices to move beyond their circumstances. The relationship with a reliable and consistent adult also provides students with emotional support and helps reinforce that they matter and they are cared for.

Mentoring isn't as intimidating as it may seem. The key is to show up, listen, and be reliable. Time with a mentee may be spent on homework, playing a game, reading or simply talking.

Modesto City Schools is home to approximately 30,000 wonderful students in 34 schools. We currently have 200 mentors in 15 schools. Many of our students could benefit from the additional support of a caring adult, and to say we need more mentors is an understatement.

We are grateful to the organizations currently involved in our schools. These organizations include Gallo, Stanislaus County, Modesto Rotary, the Stanislaus County Office of Education, Costco, Mentors in Action and Youth for Christ to name a few. The movement is growing, and now the faith community, community collaboratives and nonprofit organizations, with Love Our Schools, Mentor Me Stanislaus and Sierra Vista Mentor Resource Center, are joining the crusade. Still, we have so many students who need a mentor.

Recognizing the need in Modesto City Schools, the Stanislaus Community Foundation generously funded a grant to help provide a community outreach coordinator for the district. The position provides a central point person to engage the community and walk potential mentors through a new standardized mentoring enrollment process.

The new enrollment process is necessary to maintain the safety and security of our students and schools. Potential mentors must complete a few mentor forms, a Department of Justice and FBI background check, and have a clear TB test. The cost for these safety measures is $47. Mentors are responsible for these costs.

Modesto City Schools acknowledges that the fees may deter potential mentors, but we believe the safety measures are essential. We are working to obtain grants and donations to help offset some of the cost for those with financial hardships.

Modesto is an amazing community full of people who freely give of their time, talent and heart. Please consider sharing your time, talent and heart with a student. You may find the student is not the only one who will benefit from your mentoring relationship.

The author is the community outreach coordinator for Modesto City Schools. Her position is partially funded by a grant from the Stanislaus Community Foundation.• To become a mentor in Modesto City Schools, contact Tiffani Burns, community outreach coordinator, at (209) 550-3300 ext. 5408 or burns.ti@mcs4kids.com.

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