They ‘be­come a fam­ily’ through school men­tor­ing

Ex­tracur­ric­u­lar pro­gram helps boost con­fi­dence of stu­dents, staff mem­bers say; 17th site now be­ing sought

The Enterprise - - News - By JACQUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­ski@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Jac­quiEn­tNews

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.

STAFF PHOTOS BY JACQUI ATKIELSKI

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.

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