January is National Mentoring Month! Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) thanks the nearly 500 mentors who volunteer with the distict’s Community-Based Mentoring Program, making a powerful impact on our students. These community members and GCPS employees build on the Power of One to mentor hundreds of male and female students in grades 4-12, providing guidance, encouragement, and support to help them reach their potential, both in and out of school.
“Mentoring is a critical part of developing positive relationships within our community,” says James Rayford, director of Academic Support. He notes that mentoring is proven to have a positive effect on academic, social, and economic outcomes for young people.
Studies show mentors can play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools they need to make responsible choices, attend and engage in school, and reduce or avoid risky behaviors. In turn, these young people are:
55% more likely to be enrolled in college;
81% more likely to participate in sports or extracurricular activities;
78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities; and
More than twice as likely to hold a leadership position in a club or sports team.
Research also shows that 9 million young people in the United States will grow up without a mentor.
With that in mind, the district launched the program in 2008 to provide community-based mentoring services to identified African-American males in middle school. Over time, the program has grown to include on-site mentoring services at local schools as well as mentoring services for African-American girls and, most recently, Hispanic/Latino students.
While hundreds of students currently are being served by mentors, we need more adult volunteers to keep growing the program, says Mr. Rayford. Based on identified needs, the program for African-American boys needs about 150 additional mentors while the program for females needs 137 mentors. The newest program for Hispanic/Latino students (both boys and girls) needs 30 additional mentors. (Mentors do not have to be bilingual to serve.)
“As a community we need to help our youth see the potential they have within them, especially when they cannot see it for themselves,” says Nury Crawford, who works with the new Hispanic Mentoring Program. (Contact Ms. Crawford if you’re interested in attending the inaugural event for the program on Tuesday, Jan. 29.)
In Gwinnett, mentors and mentees take part in one-on-one and small-group activities and district activities such as Life Lesson Workshops, 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.
Learn more about Gwinnett’s Community-Based Mentoring Program…
So, could you be the one? Mentors must be 21 or older, able to commit to a minimum of one year as a mentor, and complete a background check and an application. GCPS provides support and training for mentors.
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 an upcoming informational session for prospective mentors. Upcoming sessions are planned for Thursday, Feb. 14, at 9:30 a.m., and Thursday, Feb. 21, at 6:30 p.m. The sessions will be held at the Community-Based Mentoring Program offices at Northbrook Center, located at 1225 Northbrook Parkway in Suwanee.
Contact a Mentoring Program director with your questions:
James Rayford, director of Academic Support, leading mentoring program for African-American male students (available districtwide), (770) 682-8086
Janice Warren, director of Academic Support, leading mentoring program for African-American female students (available at middle schools in the Archer, Central Gwinnett, Discovery, Grayson, and Norcross, Shiloh and South Gwinnett clusters), (678) 226-4254
Nury Crawford, director of Academic Support, leading mentoring program for Hispanic/Latino male and female students (available at middle schools in the Berkmar and Meadowcreek clusters), (770) 277-4489
What mentors are saying about the Community-Based Mentoring Program…
“For me, the best immediate payoff is when they share with me a smile or laugh while telling a story or responding to a question. When that happens I know they feel good about themselves at that very moment. And I know that feeling good about oneself is an important first step in blossoming into a mature, responsible, caring and compassionate adult.” Rhett D. Baird, Mentor
“Since my involvement with the Gwinnett County Schools Community-Based Mentoring Program, I have found the adventure to be rewarding for all stakeholders. Being able to mentor youngsters and to assist parents with guiding them in the right direction is ‘priceless.’ Also, the presenters on the specified Saturdays have provided many opportunities and strategies for the mentors, parents, and students to strengthen our skills and approaches to reaching our students and families.” Dr. James Jones, Mentor
In this video, meet Chad and his mentor Quentin Moses and see how GCPS’ mentoring program changes lives through the Power of One.