Superintendent of Perry Township Schools
January is National Mentoring Month. Mentors play a critical role in the academic, social and personal success of students.
In fact, a 2014 report for Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership found that young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.
Likewise, a 2013 study by MDRC (formerly known as Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation) found that mentored youth have better school attendance, a greater chance of going on to higher education and more optimistic attitudes toward school.
Here in Perry Township we value the wisdom of our mentors and partners in helping our students grow as scholars and as people. Our mentors assume a variety of roles, and we count ourselves fortunate to have so many people who voluntarily invest in our students.
We are thankful for H.O.P.E. (Help Our Pupils Excel) participants who get to know our students during weekly tutoring sessions at nearly all of our schools. The tutors spend 60-90 minutes each week giving our students confidence in their skills and hope in their futures.
At Homecroft Elementary, volunteers from Southport United Methodist Church spend a lot of time helping students academically and socially. The support ranges from reading, writing and math to character education and social development. Principal Aaron Hufnagel credits Homecroft’s partnership with the church to contributing to the school’s success, and he said he is a firm believer that commitment from the community makes schools successful.
We also appreciate the support of organizations like Young Champions and Girls Inc., which regularly lead presentations regarding friendships, social media and conflict resolution.
Notably, not all of our mentors are from external organizations. We are proud to see many of our internal stakeholders giving back to our community. Many of our schools have robust PTAs that mentor and volunteer – willing to help our students in any way that’s needed. Some parents aren’t able to be a member of the PTA for their own unique reasons, yet they are still committed to helping whenever their schedules permit. Any time commitment – big or small – can make an immeasurable impact on student achievement.
Our teachers and older students continue to set an example for mentoring, as well. Cadet teachers from Perry Meridian and Southport high schools work with students around the district. At Winchester Village, the ASKING (Adults Seeking Kids in Need of Guidance) program pairs adult staff members with students for mentoring throughout the year.
We’re also thankful for many Southport students who participate in the Best Buddies program, which pairs mentors with special education students who benefit from positive interaction with older students. At Southport Middle, the student group S.P.A.R.K. (Southport Produces Amazing Remarkable Kids) uses social media to spread positive examples of good choices and actions.
We are fortunate to have so many devoted mentors making a difference in the lives of our students. However, we can always use more support. Anyone interested in mentoring or tutoring opportunities should call or email the school of their choice for more information. Tutors interested in joining H.O.P.E. should email Andrea Lakin at firstname.lastname@example.org.