PITTSFIELD, Maine — Stacey Shorey, special services director for SAD 53, said Thursday she is amazed at the immediate success of a new mentoring program.
The program links students in grades three and four who need a little boost, an extra pair of eyes or a stronger support system, with high school students who want to volunteer.
With only a few weeks under its belt, the program already is proving valuable, she said. Five students at Vickery School have been nominated by their teachers for mentoring, and three high school boys have volunteered.
Shorey said that when one child recently met his high school partner, “He stood behind me and sort of talked through me. But when his partner scootched down and began talking to him, he quickly opened up. It wasn’t long before they were walking off together, talking about hunting and fishing.”
Shorey said she already is looking to expand the program, which takes place during the high school students’ study hall time, 30 minutes a week.
“I can already see the results,” Shorey said. “The little ones can’t wait for the mentors to arrive and the mentors said they are having a ball.”
The young students are helped with homework, taken outside for athletic endeavors, listened to about their dreams and desires, and given a hand with their behavior plans. It’s an opportunity for both the younger and older students to gain some self-esteem.
“We wanted to begin small and really looked at the students that would benefit the most from this type of support,” Shorey recently reported to the SAD 53 board
Shorey said she thought the program would be a hard sell at the high school, Maine Central Institute, and the SAD 53 Alternative Education High School, but the students were excited to participate. “I thought I was going to have to pitch that mentoring would look good on their college resumes,” she said. “But I didn’t have to.”
Shorey said she found it interesting that all of the high school volunteers so far have been male. “We are hoping some young women will volunteer,” she said. “We have some little girls at Vickery [School] that could really use a mentor.”