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Mentors needed at Starr Elementary

After brainstorming ways to help students who are struggling with a variety of issues, Starr Elementary principal Dan McGuire and second grade teacher Jenny Franklin decided that their students could use another adult figure in their life that they can talk to, ask for help with homework and give encouragement.

"This mentor partnership is a school-based volunteer mentorship program where adult community members volunteer their time as mentors to provide academic, social and emotional needs for our students," said Community Ed. Director Cheryl Emerson. "They approached us at Community Education to help be a driving force behind the program and we were more than happy to help out since we are in a good position to do so. The program just recently started up and has been going pretty well so far."

The new program is named the S.T.A.R.R. Mentoring Partnership. Emerson said there are currently 14 mentors signed up to meet with second grade and kindergarten students over their lunch hour twice a month.

"The acronym stands for Students working Together with Adults to build Rewarding Relationships," Emerson said. "Our tagline is 'Nothing you do for children is ever wasted,' which is a quote from Garrison Keillor."

Teachers leave the mentor with a itinerary to help guide structure each meeting between the mentor and student. Each meeting could include activities such as free play or reading, helping the student with homework or just taking the time to talk with a student.

"Many students are looking for guidance and encouragement from an adult figure, and just a small time commitment from an adult in our community would mean the world to a child," Emerson said. "This builds strong community relationships, creates goodwill and helps shape the future leaders of New Richmond."

According to Emerson, identifying students who might be in need of a mentor was a team effort between the guidance counselors and teachers at Starr. Parents need to sign a permission slip to allow their student to be part of the program. The initial goal of the program was to have 10 mentors per grade level and then expand from there if the need arose.

"The school looked at all grades, K-5, to identify students who were of the highest need and could benefit the most from a mentor. They found that kindergarten and second grade were the two areas that would benefit the most from the program," Emerson said. "Given that the program takes place over the students' lunch period, we are providing mentors' with their lunch for the two times they are there in a month. We are looking for sponsors who would be willing to help cover that cost."

Lunch for the kindergarteners is from noon to 1 p.m. every day, while lunch for the second-graders is 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

The program is currently in the pilot phase, Emerson said, and is only available at Starr Elementary. However, should the program continue to grow and do well at Starr, Emerson said it could spread to the other elementary schools if there is a need.

"We are hoping that the relationships the students and mentors build will grow as they get older and advance through the school system," Emerson said. "We know that people are busy, but this is such a small time commitment with it being just a lunch period twice a month that we hope we can get a lot of people willing to be a mentor to a student who needs someone to talk with. This program is all about supporting the kids."

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or if you would like further information, contact:

Jenny Franklin, Starr Elementary — 715-243-1569

Cheryl Emerson, CE Director — 715-243-7423

Dan McGuire, Principal, Starr Elementary — 715-243-7433

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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