The Griffin-Spalding County Mentor Program hopes to have 40 volunteer mentors in place after the Christmas break, with 10 to serve at Moore Elementary, 10 at Kennedy Road Middle School and 20 at Spalding High School.
“Eventually, we would like to branch out to other schools in the system,” said Program Coordinator Jillian Rafter.
Potential mentors must be at least 18 years old, complete an online application, pass a background check, attend a required two-hour orientation training — which will be held on Dec. 6 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Central Office on South Sixth Street — and commit to mentoring at least one hour per week for a minimum of one year during the time school is in session.
After each school has selected students that it believes will benefit from the program, those students will be matched with mentors. They will then meet at a time that’s agreed upon with the teacher.
Asked about the greater purpose of the program, Rafter said it’s designed to have children benefit from a positive, stable role model in their lives, either academically or socially.
“First and foremost, mentors are there to be a friend and to listen,” she said.
Children benefit from a mentor program in a variety of ways, Rafter said, as it may improve their academic performance and attendance, reduce the risk of dropping out of school, decrease high-risk and anti-social behavior and better their self-esteem and self-reliance.
While the Griffin-Spalding County Mentor Program is a school-based initiative, with Superintendent Curtis Jones putting together the initial research, the original funding for it came through the Griffin-Spalding Chamber of Commerce, the Spalding Housing Authority and the local school system. The managing body of the program is the Spalding Collaborative.
Future funding for the mentor program to continue will rely on sponsorships, donations and grants.
Online applications can be found at the programs Web site, www.gscmentor.org. For more information, contact Rafter at 770-229-3710, ext. 321 or at email@example.com.