RISE Mentoring program seeking volunteers

RISE Mentoring, a new program in Pearland ISD, is seeking volunteers to mentor students through the end of the school year. The district was searching for about 70 volunteers as of late January, said Mandy Benedix, PISD mentor volunteer specialist.

Students in the program meet with community members for 30 minutes each week. Benedix said RISE is important for a generation of children who struggle forming healthy relationships.

“I think people are becoming more and more disconnected from other human beings,” she said. “With the increase in technology, people can go an entire day and not talk to another person. That’s not how we were designed to be.”

About 110 mentors are in the RISE program, including Superintendent John Kelly. He has been mentoring the same student for the past three or four years, even before RISE began in September. After seeing the positive effects of meeting with his mentee, Kelly tasked Benedix with creating a program for the district.

“[Kelly] has seen the benefit of [mentoring],” Benedix said. “He has been doing exactly what we ask our mentors to do.”

Volunteers meet their mentee at their campus and activities vary based on the student’s interests, Benedix said. She said she tries to match students with mentors who have similar hobbies or backgrounds to increase the chances the two connect.

“A lot goes into the matching [process],” she said. “I think it has helped so many of them hit it off well in the beginning. I really evaluate who [the student and volunteer] are to try and make it work.”

The district-wide program is open to all grade levels. Students will be matched with volunteers through spring break, Benedix said.

“Research says that you really want to have about three months [of] consistently being able to meet with a student in order to really create a solid [relationship] moving into the summer,” she said.

To become a mentor, one has to complete a background check, application and training. Benedix said she will continue to hold training sessions throughout the school year to prepare volunteers for next fall.

For more information, visit www.pearlandisd.org/mentoring.