Men­tor­ing program launch­ing this month in mid­dle schools

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Kevin Myrick Ed­i­tor

The Take Back Polk men­tor­ing program will be kick­ing off later this month as stu­dents from Cedar­town and Rock­mart Mid­dle Schools, and t hose pro­vid­ing l es­sons on life and lead­er­ship skills will soon be matched up with youth in the most dire need of help.

I n an early morn­ing meet­ing in the mid­dle school li­brary in Cedar­town, a group of men­tors made up of mem­bers from var­i­ous roles in the com­mu­nity got their own lessons about how the program will work, and what is ex­pected of them go­ing into this trial year.

Or­ga­nizer Jennifer Hulsey, county com­mis­sioner and mid­dle school teacher, put to­gether a whole year of les­son plans, work­sheets and con­cepts for Take Back Polk, and an­swered some of the press­ing ques­tions gen­er­ate dur­ing an first meet­ing ear­lier in the sum­mer.

The idea of the program is to tar­get youth at a vul­ner­a­ble age in the early teen years of mid­dle school and solve long term be­hav­ior prob­lems, like tru­ancy or spe­cific is­sues like fight­ing or dis­rupt­ing class, and also ad­dress­ing aca­demic is­sues at the same time.

Stu­dents who don’t meet cer­tain goals made dur­ing the first meet­ing with their men­tor won’t get to par­tic­i­pate in a field trip to the Polk County Col­lege and Ca- reer Academy in late Oc­to­ber, and if they con­tinue to fail in goals they will also miss a late win­ter trip to the down­town ar­eas in Cedar­town and Rock­mart to learn about lo­cal busi­nesses and lead­ers.

Hulsey said the field trips are in­cen­tives for stu­dents to par­tic­i­pate in if they do well, and the hopes is that in part the idea of miss­ing out will be at least one mo­ti­va­tion for reach­ing the goals the stu­dents set for them­selves.

“We want the kids to be ac­count­able for whether or not they’re meet­ing their goals when we sit down with them each month,” she said. “Not be­ing able to take part in ac­tiv­i­ties is part of that.”

Men­tors are re­quired by the Polk School District to pro­vide crim­i­nal back­ground checks to par­tic­i­pate, and they won’t be kept com­pletely alone with stu­dents dur­ing the monthly oneon-one meet­ings, tak­ing place in ei­ther mid­dle school’s li­brary or art room. Hulsey also re­ported to men­tors that they’ll be part­nered with stu­dents based on gen­der to en­sure a com­fort­able re­la­tion­ship be­tween the pairs.

Check back for more on the program as it de­vel­ops and the first meet­ing of stu­dents and men­tors this month.

Kevin Myrick / Standard Jour­nal

Jennifer Hulsey talks about the du­ties of be­ing a men­tor in her soon-to-start Take Back Polk program with mid­dle school stu­dents.

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