Help­ing stu­dents soar

Lo­cal busi­ness­man, pilot men­tors youths

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­

Lance Flynn con­sid­ered men­tor­ing for a year be­fore com­mit­ting. Even then, he wasn’t sure he would be a good men­tor for one child. So, he ended up men­tor­ing two.

“I was ap­pre­hen­sive go­ing in to do one, and (New­ton Men­tor­ing Di­rec­tor Mar­garet Wash­ing­ton) said ‘You know, we have a cou­ple of sets of broth­ers; would you be will­ing to men­tor two?’ I had to re­ally take a deep breath. I fig­ured I don’t know what I’m do­ing with one, so what dif­fer­ence does two make?” Flynn said. “So I said ‘Sure, I’ll meet with them both.’ It’s just kind of a thing if you say you’re go­ing to do it, just walk in and do it.”

Flynn, 65, is one of dozens of lo­cals who de­vote one hour of each week to mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in stu­dents’ lives through the non­profit New­ton Men­tor­ing, which is de­signed to help at-risk chil­dren in the New­ton County School Sys­tem.

Flynn now men­tors broth­ers Cedrick and Sedar­ius Bolden, who at­tend Flint Hill El­e­men­tary.

“My con­cern was I have no train­ing what­so­ever. I’m not a teacher; I’m just a nor­mal per­son I think, but (Mar­garet) is quite

good at re­as­sur­ing and en­cour­ag­ing you. (A teacher isn’t) what she’s look­ing for. She’s just look­ing for an adult who wants to be a friend and be sup­port­ive and you have a lot of flex­i­bil­ity in what you can do with the kids,” he said. “New­ton Men­tor­ing doesn’t send you in to­tally empty-handed; they have quite a bit of ma­te­rial that cov­ers some in­tro­duc­tory things and get­ting to know (each other).

“There was ap­pre­hen­sion, but you just go in and be your­self.”

Flynn would ask Cedrick and Sedar­ius about them­selves and he would share de­tails about his life. He helped them with math, read with them and taught them to play check­ers. He told them about the places he trav­eled for work — teach­ing a lit­tle about ge­og­ra­phy along the way — and he helped them set goals about how to get where they wanted to go.

“I think it has been mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial. My son is 31 years old; it’s been a long time since I was with younger kids on a fre­quent ba­sis. … It’s just been fun. If I’ve ex­posed them to some things and helped them out in the long run, that’s great. I look for­ward to see­ing them ev­ery week,” Flynn said.

Though he started out ap­pre­hen­sive, Flynn has gone far above and be­yond the call of duty. Though it’s not part of the pro­gram, Flynn has taken the boys on sev­eral field trips out­side of school, in­clud­ing to the air­port to ride in his plane, to his of­fice to hit golf balls, and to the Al­liance Theatre to see a per­for­mance of “Char­lotte’s Web.”

Sedar­ius said fly­ing in the plane was his fa­vorite part.

“It was mak­ing my stom­ach tickle,” he said.

“That’s nor­mal,” Flynn said.

Cedrick found fly­ing a lit­tle scary, but he re­ally en­joyed hit­ting golf balls at Flynn’s of­fice — that’s one of the ben­e­fits of own­ing your own busi­ness (Flynn founded Tech­nik Pack­ag­ing Ma­chin­ery).

Both broth­ers loved see­ing the play, and Flynn is hop­ing he and his wife will be able to take the boys to an­other show or two. Sedar­ius said TV was not bet­ter.

When Sedar­ius grows up he wants to play football and Cedrick wants to play bas­ket­ball. While play­ing sports pro­fes­sion­ally is a tall goal, Flynn uses those goals to teach the boys about in­ter­me­di­ate steps and the value of ed­u­ca­tion.

“When you do some­thing you have to think about it,” Sedar­ius said; he’s the more talk­a­tive one. “(To play football I have to) go to col­lege and stay out of trou­ble and get an ed­u­ca­tion.”

“I have to work harder in read­ing, be­cause when I get older, I might not be able to play and stuff,” Cedrick said, ad­mit­ting he doesn’t like to read and has to work at it.

The three share more than just mem­o­ries; they also share a birth­day week. Flynn cel­e­brated his birth­day on Mon­day, Cedrick had his Tues­day and Sedar­ius had his Wed­nes­day.

Flynn is quick to point out that any­one can be a men­tor.

“It’s not that (I do) any­thing spe­cial or won­der­ful, just dif­fer­ent. Dif­fer­ent is good. I’m not a teacher, I’m not a par­ent, and I’m not a rel­a­tive. I’m just an adult that likes to hang out with them some­times, but they also know I want them to do well in school,” Flynn said. “I push them to do out­side read­ing and I push them to know where Ger­many is on a globe and stuff like that, but I don’t get any push­back what­so­ever on that stuff. They want to learn.”

Many more men­tors are needed, par­tic­u­larly male men­tors, be­cause the ma­jor­ity of at-risk stu­dents are males, Wash­ing­ton said. Peo­ple in­ter­ested in men­tor­ing can at­tend one of sev­eral train­ing ses­sions, or make an ap­point­ment for other times. Train­ing will be of­fered from noon to 2 p.m. in the sec­ond-floor con­fer­ence room of United Bank, 7200 U.S. High­way 278, Cov­ing­ton on: Thurs­day, Sept. 12; Tues­day, Sept. 24; Tues­day,

Gabriel Khouli/the Cov­ing­ton News

Lance Flynn, cen­ter, helps out Cedrick, left, and Sedar­ius Bolden, right, as one of dozens of lo­cals who de­vote an hour a week to the non-profit New­ton Men­tor­ing.

sub­mit­ted photo/The Cov­ing­ton News

Sedar­ius Bolden sits in men­tor Lance Flynn’s plane at the Cov­ing­ton Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port.

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