Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mentor Breakfast Celebrates Another Successful Year

Mentoring changes lives, that was the message that resounded throughout the annual Fayette County School System’s Friends Mentoring Appreciation and Awards Breakfast.

The mentors were not just talking about the students they help every week, they were also referring to themselves, stating that they get as much out of the experience as they give. Both adult and teen mentors alike say the experience has enriched their lives in ways they didn’t expect.

“It taught me how to be there for someone and taught me how to care for someone other than myself,” says Malcolm Belton, a senior at Fayette County High who has mentored at Fayetteville Intermediate for two years. “The greatest achievement I got out of mentoring was a life lesson, a lesson that will be useful in my future. That life lesson is that you should always give one hundred and five percent on anything you do because that percentage could have a huge impact on someone. The feeling of having an impact on someone is huge. It is a good feeling that doesn’t happen often.”

A number of mentors attended the breakfast spanning age groups and different walks of life. Some were high school students from the Hi Teen program, while others were retired teachers and administrators, current school system employees, retired community members, and local business people. All have made a commitment to devote at least one hour a week during the school year to helping a child. Many have been involved with the program for years.

New this year was the presentation of Outstanding Service Awards, one to a teen mentor and the other to an adult. Persons were nominated by school counselors and After School Program site coordinators as those who personify the foundations of mentoring: showing up, having a positive attitude and empathy, giving their best, and demonstrating a love of mentoring.

The first award recipients are Kathryn Aquino, a senior at Whitewater High who has mentored for four years at Sara Harp Minter Elementary, and Tanya VanHoozer, a community member who has also been in the program for four years starting at Spring Hill Elementary then following her student to Fayette Middle where she continues to mentor her today.

While it is nice to have public recognition and appreciation, the mentors say they are not looking for accolades, just an opportunity to have a positive impact on someone’s life.

“Mentors are like Navy Seals, they work in the shadows and they are willing to extend themselves to go the distance. We don’t need pats on the back; we’re not looking for accolades. We’re doing this because we’re making a difference,” says Julius Pryor III, a mentor and member of the program’s advisory board.
This marks the 18th year for the Friends Mentoring Program. Through the years nearly 800 volunteers have helped Fayette County Public School students. This year, 144 registered mentors and tutors worked with over 200 students.

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor or learning more about the program can contact mentoring coordinator Jane Gough, 770-460-3990, ext. 255.


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