Last school year our district mourned the untimely death of three students — each independently despondent over personal circumstances in their lives. We grieved partially because their deaths came without warning or outcry.
We are also aware there are MANY other students within our boundaries and throughout the nation who are experiencing academic difficulties, alienation or trauma.
Our Pearland ISD Board of Trustees and administration have deliberated over new and better ways to address these needs. In early spring last year, we devoted a special board workshop/training on that topic. Many ideas came forth. Among them, the most powerful tool we can conceive is a comprehensive mentoring program to reach students whose parents, educators or peers might identify as benefiting.
Who might benefit most? Students who are performing at academic levels below their ability, those experiencing difficulties in their everyday lives, those who might desire one-on-one interaction with a caring adult, et al.
Many research findings point out that nothing is more important to the education and well-being of a child than the presence of at least one caring adult pointing him or her in the right direction.
Research links mentoring to improved academic, social and economic prospects for young people — and in turn, this strengthens communities nationwide. Mentors can help equip young people to make responsible decisions, stay focused/engaged in school and avoid risky behavior.
We asked Mandy Benedix, who already oversees our renowned K-12 Grit Initiative, to lead this effort. As a two-time District Teacher of the Year with a huge heart for children and parents alike, she is ideally suited to give compassion, significance and comprehensiveness to our fledgling effort. Our new program is called RISE Mentoring, with RISE standing for Reach, Inspire, Support and Empower.
As of January 2016, we’ve signed up and trained 101 new mentors from the community and from our own employees. Right now, our counselors and others have identified about 70 more students who could benefit and whose parents have given permission for an assigned mentor. And we have still other students being identified on an ongoing basis.
Our children will benefit from more community volunteers. So I make this pitch in January, designated as “National Mentoring Month” in America. Our RISE Mentoring Program involves contact with the student once a week, every week, for 30 minutes — for the duration of the school year. Mandy can be reached at 281.485.3203, ext. 66504. You can also visit http://www.pearlandisd.org/Page/634 or contact Mandy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
May God bless our collective efforts!