06/10/13 Plans to establish a mentoring program entitled KIDS HOPE USA for at-risk students at Webster Elementary in Plymouth passed the first hurdle in the planning stage by getting unanimous approval from the Plymouth School Board on June 4th.
Presenting the proposed program to the Board were Webster Principal Carrie McGuire and Trinity United Methodist Pastor Mark Reed.
KIDS Hope USA partners church volunteers with students in the community. The national program currently is in 31 states and has over 650 church-school partnerships across the country. The program estimates that they are able to reach over 10, 500 at-risk children.
The program is overseen by an unpaid director from the community. Directors are given specific training in leadership, program management, school partnership, communication, screening, recruiting, and matching, among other offerings. Then volunteers from various churches commit to spending one hour each week with a student. According to Reed and McGuire, volunteers would be screened by both the church personnel and the school’s background checks. The hour -long sessions incorporate academic work and creative play, according to Reed. Time is also allocated to reviewing the plans provided by the teacher with the mentor and students and time for the child to share some of things happening in their lives with the mentor.
McGuire said she has hoped to have a mentoring program since she came to the Plymouth Schools six years ago. She said, “I can already think of students who could benefit from a program like this,” They plan to start in the fall with ten students and ten volunteers. McGuire said, “Our social worker, Wendy Bendy, is very much in favor of this program.”
Costs for the program are set at a one-time fee of $3,000-$4,000. Reed said the fees would be absorbed by the local churches. Reed told the School Board members that the area United Methodist Churches are starting the local initiative and that, in the future, other churches could be asked to participate. He said, “The United Methodist Churches work as a cluster.”
Carol Anders Correspondent