Many young students in the U.S. lack the proper social skills and study habits to succeed in school, and their parents aren't always around to help. That used to be the case for some Jackson County families, but a new mentoring program is making a big difference.
The word “friend” takes on a new meaning when that person is your mentor.
Kerrie Robertson, a Friends volunteer, says, "We just wanted to come here and form a relationship with one and try to make a difference in one kid’s life and to be there and help them with their school and social life."
Friends is a program or partnership in many ways between the Baptist College of Florida and nearby Graceville Elementary.
Thomas Kinchen, BCF president, says, "The students in their organization have felt it vitally important that they be able to not only learn in the classroom, but also be able to invest their time and efforts into the lives of the young people who are in our local schools."
According to educators at Graceville Elementary, having these college students as mentors has been life-changing for the youngsters in the program.
Barbara Mixson, GEC curriculum specialist, says, "We feel that the students have very definitely impacted the students that they serve. They serve. They've helped them in different ways. It's helped their self esteem. It's helped them want to become a better student.”
The Friends program has been in place since 2002. They currently have around 50 volunteers and counting.
Since the program started, Graceville Elementary has gone from being a "C" school to an "A" school. The school doesn't hesitate to give the mentors some of the credit for that accomplishment.