Our mentors are volunteers coming from all walks of life. Each mentor agrees to dedicate approximately two hours a week to work with one child throughout a semester. They can be young or old, single or married. Their ages currently range from the early 20's to the mid 60's. We particularly encourage young people who want to learn how to work with children as well as "empty-nesters" whose experience and guidance is extremely valuable. Several of our mentors have or are working towards a Masters degree.
Our students come from schools receiving extensive Title One support from the Federal Government. We seek students who may be failing to live up to their potential, but who are capable of performing well and we try to reach them before they become discouraged and quit the system. Most of our students will have multiple "risk" factors ranging from poverty to challenges in their home life. However, we will accept any child if the school believes he/she would especially benefit from our program. Our primary objective is to choose students who can benefit from our program and who truly want to improve. Once a student enters our program they remain eligible to continue with us, provided that they stay within the school district and continue with their studies. Our goal is to work with them through high school, as they approach graduation and to ultimately help them enter college.
How One-on-One Works
Our mentoring sessions are one night per week and last for about two hours. The school provides the space, study materials, and a staff member to answer questions and provide assistance. Since the entire group meets in either the library or cafeteria, students are stimulated by each other's enthusiasm and energy, while still benefiting from individual attention.
One of the strengths of our program is that it can be individually tailored to meet the needs of each student. Typically sessions are divided into three parts. Approximately 75 minutes is allotted for academic tutoring, 15 minutes for a character discussion, and 30 minutes for sports and recreation.
Academic tutoring usually focuses on math and reading, but we are free to concentrate on whatever subjects the parent(s) or teachers feel the student needs. Mentors spend most of their time helping students with homework. We also encourage the use of flash cards along with additional reading and writing assignments. Mentors are encouraged to go slowly and to avoid time schedules. Much of what we do is to reinforce what the students have already learned in class.
Because our primary goal is to develop good citizens, time is set aside each night for a Character Discussion. These discussions focus on topics like honesty, hard work, and respect for other people and for their property. During these discussions we also encourage our students to set meaningful and achievable goals for both school and life. Visit: Character Discussion.
A participants story. Courtesy of The Dallas Morning News.