LETTER: Fifth Year of Mentoring Program a Success


Dear Editor,

I would like to take a moment to thank the community of St. Mary's County for making our fifth year with St. Mary's County Public Schools' Future Leaders of the World (FLOW) Mentoring Program such an incredible success.

In the 2012-13 school year, 116 passionate members of our community volunteered their time to mentor children through this program. These volunteers came from all over the county and from every walk of life. Local business professionals, military personnel from Patuxent River Naval Air Station, college students from St Mary's College of Maryland and College of Southern Maryland, retired professionals, professors and staff from St Mary's College, high school students who want to help guide a younger student, pastors and youth pastors, and active and retired teachers are just a sampling of the people who have shared their experience and wisdom with young people this year.

These volunteers were carefully screened and matched with a young person (grades 4-12) who would most benefit from the support of a caring and responsible member of our community. Volunteers met with their mentees at the students' school for one and a half hours every week throughout the school year. With the support of a school Site Leader, mentors and students worked on setting and achieving academic and personal goals, did fun service learning projects, went on educational field trips, and supported the development of the students' unique strengths.

Already, we are seeing positive results from these mentoring relationships. More than half of our FLOW student mentees improved or maintained their Grade Point Average, and 8 out of 9 decreased or maintained their number of discipline referrals during the implementation of this program. This is extraordinary given the general trend for grades to decline, and disciplinary referrals to increase with the progression of the school year. We have continued to receive positive feedback from teachers, parents, mentors, and mentees who have seen notable progress in social and emotional skills, attitude, self-esteem, self-confidence, and academic achievement. Here are just a few of their words:

"[Mentee] has made a complete transformation from the student I met back in August. She faces life with a more positive attitude, she interacts with her peers on a more appropriate level, and her academic performance has improved."-Teacher, Benjamin Banneker Elementary

"My child loved her mentor! She always talked about her and actually requested her for next year." -Parent, Mechanicsville Elementary

"Because of FLOW, my behavior is better and I do better in school. I feel like I have a better future now." - Student Mentee, Hollywood Elementary

"Thank you, you have made a big difference in my daughter's life." - Parent, Oakville Elementary

"I feel that through FLOW our kids have gained a friendly face and someone that they can trust and go to when they feel they need to confide in someone. -Mentor Teacher, Leonardtown Middle

"My favorite part is being able to express myself and feel like my opinions have value." - Student Mentee, Chopticon High

"I am 100% thrilled I entered into this program. I had a wonderful experience." - Mentor, Lexington Park Elementary

We want to thank everyone who has made this program what it is: our supportive SMCPS Superintendent and Board of Education members, our dedicated school Site Leaders, our partner organizations (Tri-County Youth Services Bureau, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and St. Mary's College of Maryland), the Local Management Board for providing bus transportation home weekly for our students, and most of all our passionate volunteer Mentors, without whom the program would not exist. We have been impressed and touched by the number of people who have recognized the power of mentoring and who have made the space in their lives to reach out to young people.

We are now in the process of recruiting for the 2013-14 school year. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a mentor or would like to learn more about FLOW Mentoring, please visit our website at: www.smcps.org/mentor or contact me, Sarah Tyson, at srtyson@smcps.org or 301-475-0242 ext.148.

We are also looking for people who can share their talents with our FLOW programs. If you would be interested in visiting one of our FLOW sites to talk about your career path, teach an art or craft, share a particular talent or skill, please contact us. The more new experiences and perspectives we can expose our FLOW students to, the better!

Many thanks to all,

Sarah Tyson
FLOW Mentoring Instructional Resource Teacher
Department of College and Career Readiness
St. Mary's County Public Schools
24005 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650
301-475-0242, ext. 148

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