In Gwinnett County Public Schools, we believe in the Power of One…
One caring adult can change a child’s life;
One hour a week can make a difference in a student’s future; and
One-on-one support can help a student on his or her path to becoming a successful and responsible young adult.
With the support of community members and GCPS employees, the district’s Community-Based Mentoring Program is building on the Power of One to mentor hundreds of students in grades 4-12, providing guidance, encouragement, and support to help them reach their potential, both in and out of school.
Families around the district can attest to the success of mentoring for their students. Parent Winifred King says her son’s four years in the mentoring program have resulted in improved grades and behavior. Of her son, she says, “He is growing with respect, integrity, and wisdom, all because of his participation in this program. Thank you for instilling positivity and strong moral values for my son.”
In addition to one-on-one and small-group activities for mentors and mentees, district activities include Life Lesson Workshops, such as a virtual job shadowing experience, field trips, STEM summer camp, and sessions on dual enrollment, financial literacy, social media, and self-esteem. An annual Career Summit provides networking opportunities with more than 25 business and community organizations. The program also provides workshops and meetings for parents and guardians. A number of activities— including college visits, application support, and help with scholarship resources— promote a college-going culture and place an emphasis on graduation. In fact, $8,000 in scholarships was awarded to graduating mentees in 2018 through the program.
The district launched the program in 2008 to provide community-based mentoring services to 57 identified African-American males in middle schools. Over time, the program has grown to include on-site mentoring services at local schools, adding a program for African-American girls in January 2018 and expanding to include Hispanic/Latino students in January of 2019. At the close of the 2017–18 school year, the program had 268 trained male volunteers who served as mentors and role models for 578 male students in 62 schools. Last spring, 135 female mentors were trained as the program expanded to support 6th grade African-American females at Grace Snell MS, Shiloh MS, and Snellville MS.
The district is expanding both the size and the reach of its mentoring programs for 2018-19. Recruitment goals include:
200 new mentors, 220 returning mentors, serving 900 African-American male students in grades 4-12 at 75 schools across the district— James Rayford, director
200 new mentors, 132 returning mentors, serving 300 African-American female students in grades 6 and 7 at 11 middle schools (returning to Shiloh and South Gwinnett clusters, expanding to Archer, Central Gwinnett, Discovery, Grayson, and Norcross clusters)— Janice Warren, director
65 new mentors, serving 65 Hispanic and Latino male and female students in 6th grade at four middle schools (launching in the Berkmar and Meadowcreek clusters)— Nury Crawford, director
Mentor Chigozie Anum says he’s had a great experience as a mentor and values the opportunity to develop relationships with students and their families. “I am grateful for the opportunity to touch lives and contribute to our communities,” he says.
Students appreciate those relationships as well. Isaiah, a mentee, says he hopes to maintain the strong relationships he’s developed with both mentees and mentors. He says “My participation in the Community-Based Mentoring Program has been an excellent journey for me. I have learned numerous things on how to live in society as a young black man.”
Mr. Rayford, director of Academic Support, says the mentoring team will host several recruiting events this fall and they look forward to sharing the mentoring experience with interested adults.
Could you be the one?
If you’re ready to learn more about how you can be the one adult who makes a difference for one of our students, consider attending the next informational session for prospective mentors on Tuesday, Sept. 25, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the program’s offices at Northbrook Center, located at 1225 Northbrook Parkway, Suite B, in Suwanee. Adults, 21 and older, are welcome to apply to become mentors. (Note: Mentors do not need to be bilingual to serve in the new Hispanic/Latino program.)
Studies show that successful mentoring programs help students develop social skills, improve their school achievement and graduation rates, build character, and many other benefits. While school counselors, teachers, and family members all play a role in keeping students in school and learning, the involvement of a community mentor can make a meaningful connection.