They ‘become a family’ through school mentoring
Extracurricular program helps boost confidence of students, staff members say; 17th site now being sought
Teachers and mentors can interact with St. Mary’s public school students in a different way during Future Leaders of The World meetings at 16 different schools. The program is looking to expand to its 17th site, and is always in need of more volunteers.
The program offers students the chance to connect with a mentor who can guide and support them as they grow as students and citizens. Mentors will meet with their assigned mentees once a week to work on homework, make crafts and spend time together at school sites.
Third-grader Madison Crawford said Nov. 7 that her first day at the after-school meeting was fun. She said she wanted to dye her T-shirt purple as she waited with the other third- through fifth-graders to create their own shirts.
Fifth-grader Madelyn Parrish said she wanted to dye her shirt blue and “will wear it every FLOW day.”
Madison Crawford’s mother, Shannon Crawford, said she and her daughter happened to walk in on last month’s meeting after a par- ent-teacher conference.
Going to FLOW is “all I’ve heard about since they were carving pumpkins last month,” she said, adding the program offers children a safe place to spend time with peers after school.
Although the mother said she picks her daughter up after school, she said she “really like[s] that they provide transportation for the kids that wouldn’t be able to make it here otherwise.”
Teachers and counselors recommend students to the program based on their classroom behavior and academics, Jen Kearns, FLOW site leader, said Tuesday.
School staff also “choose kids that could use a social [and] emotional boost,” she said.
“They’re our future leaders of the world. They have to be confident,” Kearns said.
The children have only met a few times this school year, but have grown together and will “truly become a family” by the end of the school year, she said.
While in the classroom, students may be more shy or act out, but “those behaviors disappear” when they get to be with other FLOW program kids, Kearns said.
Media specialist and mentor Michele Smith said she enjoyed being a mentor to fourth-grader Erica Daymunde, because she “gets to build relationships with students and interact with them in different capacities.”
She said she has known Daymunde ever since she was in kindergarten, and “this is her first year in FLOW.”
“You know my sister, too,” Daymunde said to Smith as she was tie-dyeing her T-shirt.
She said she likes the after school program “because my best friend is here, too.”
The mentoring program is currently offered at 16 schools in St. Mary’s, and looking to expand to another, Tammy Burr, public schools coordinator of special programs.
Burr said currently there are 149 students to match with the 120 volunteer mentors. Last year’s program had 116 mentors for the 141 students.
“We’re always looking for more mentors,” she said, adding that the goal is to have a mentor for every student in the program.
For more information on FLOW mentoring, see www.smcps.org/ss/flow.
Mechanicsville Elementary third-grader Madison Crawford, center, places a piece on a Blokus game board Nov. 70 while fifth-grader Madelyn Parrish and third-grader Charlotte Parrish watch. The girls are waiting their turn to tie-dye tees during their school’s Future Leaders Of The World day.