According to a Feb. 2 news release, the new mentoring program aims to provide additional support for students by establishing consistent, healthy relationships with adults. According to research, successful mentoring can help improve a student's academic performance, reduce serious discipline infractions, develop more positive attitudes toward school, and strengthen a student's leadership and communication skills.
"This work can absolutely changes lives," SISD Superintendent Rodney Watson said in a statement. "There are many factors that go into our students' success, but one of the most important is having consistent, positive, encouraging relationships with adults who care—including teachers and mentors. This is a wonderful opportunity for members of our community to influence the life of a young person. If you feel called to this work, I'd encourage you to take the leap."
According to the release, mentors must be 21 years or older and will be required to complete an application and background check process prior to attending orientation. Mentors of all ages and from a range of backgrounds, cultures and occupations are welcome to apply, as the district is hoping to cultivate a diverse pool of mentors to pair with students, said Deeone McKeithan, executive director of community engagement for SISD.
"We need mentors that are committed to helping students achieve their dreams," McKeithan said in a statement. "We're looking for people who are passionate about seeing the next generation of our kids succeed in becoming lifelong learners, critical thinkers and responsible citizens who display good character."
Mentors will be expected to work with an SISD student for between 30-60 minutes each week throughout the school year, which will take place virtually for the time being due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the release states. Once visitors are allowed back on campus, in-person meetings will be held in open, monitored environments such as school libraries.
"We're dealing with some unprecedented times in education, and while some students are doing well, it's been a difficult transition for everyone, and that takes a toll," McKeithan said. "As their village, we need to make sure that we're providing all of our students and families with the support, the tools and resources they need in order to continue to build their confidence, help with their focus and just provide them a source of encouragement."
According to the release, while campuses will refer students to The Vine Mentoring Program for a variety of reasons, parents and students can also voluntarily request a mentor by contacting the student's campus. In either scenario, to participate in the program the student must agree, and their parents must give permission, the release states.
For more information about The Vine Mentoring Program, contact Community Engagement Coordinator Lorena Zertuche at email@example.com.