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Program offers students helping hand

A mentoring program will be helping students at Kingsbury Elementary this school year.

Monday, August 20, 2001

A mentoring program will be helping students at Kingsbury Elementary this school year.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tri-State is expanding its school-based mentoring program to include Kingsbury – the first Lawrence County school to become a part of this program.

"We think it is an opportunity for some children who need extra help," Kingsbury principal Shelly McGraw said.

In the program, teachers identify students who need tutoring or friendship, and Big Brothers Big Sisters matches the child with a mentor. They meet once a week for an hour.

Some people have questioned if meeting for one hour each week could be effective, Teresa A. Eye, school-based mentoring coordinator, said.

"But, it really is successful," Eye said. "They do better in school and it makes them feel happy and good about themselves."

Volunteers are needed for the program to serve as mentors. To participate, a mentor must be at least 18 years old, go through an interview and reference and police background check and complete a brief training session.

Case managers stay in contact with the mentors to answer questions and help in any way necessary.

Those interested can contact Big Brothers Big Sisters toll free at 1-800-971-2102 or call case manager Kennetta Potter at (606) 329-8799.

The volunteers are needed soon because to be more effective the mentoring starts "ideally as early in the year as possible," Eye said.

Kingsbury has had high school students volunteer, but this is the school’s first program to invite adult volunteers to work with the students.

School-based mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters began in this area two years ago. This year, two schools are being added.

Schools have the advantage through this program of not having to do the time-consuming interviewing of prospective volunteers.

The only problem the program has had is fewer mentors than students, Eye said.

If the mentoring is successful at Kingsbury, it will be expanded, she said.

"That would be our hope," she added.

Big Brothers Big Sisters will have a recruitment drive for volunteers for all its programs 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at Ohio University Southern Campus. Lunch and information about the programs will be provided.

The organization already operates a community-based mentoring program in Lawrence County.