By Gwen Sisson
All of the volunteers agree, this program is about making a real difference in the life of a student in the Louisville Municipal School District.
According to Dr. Nola Bryant, director of assessment and professional development for the Louisville Municipal School District, the mentoring program has been a success overall.
“There are several students who are making progress toward improvement in their attendance, behavior and academics,” Bryant said. “While it is not progressing as I would like for the positive impact for all students, I feel that if reaching at least one child and it will improve their behavior, attendance and academics, we are reaching one child that will be successful in life. That is success.”
Bryant said principals from the schools have spoken about the noticeable improvement in some students.
“The old phrase, ‘Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’ is a big part of this program,” Bryant said. “Our mentors and advisory team cares.”
Bryant said there are currently 14 students who are involved in the LMSD mentoring program. Originally, there were 18 students and 12 mentors plus a 17-member LMSD Dropout Prevention Advisory Committee made up of community and parental as well as civic leaders and stakeholders.
As part of this experience volunteer mentors provide homework help, but also a wide range of other activities where students build their self-confidence and “become more well-rounded human beings,” Bryant said.
Field trips and college tours are an important component of this program, as well as a time for students and mentors to become friends. Some of the student have written essays from their field trips — Language Arts Experiences (LEA) — and won prizes as part of this program. Special tours of Jackson State University and Mississippi State University have been a highlight of the program for many students.
Bryant said Gerald Mills at the Chamber of Commerce and ARC/RCU funds, have been instrumental assisting the students in this program on field trips. And Superintendent of Louisville Municipal Schools, Ken McMullan, made sure that the students were given transportation to watch a Mississippi State University Basketball game during the Christmas holidays this year.
Georgia Felicien has been a mentor in the Louisville Municipal School District since 2008.
“I like helping someone, especially young people, achieve their goals and do their best, in spite of the difficulties in their lives,” Felicien said.
Over the years, she has come to realize that parental involvement in a child’s education is a vital component. Felicien said this year has been the most rewarding year as a mentor, because of parental involvement. She is working with an elementary student and a high school student this year, and in both cases, the parents being involved has helped make a big difference in the progress of the student.
“We need parents to be involved with their children’s life,” Felicien said. “We all want the best for these children and we all want to educate them, but we have all got to work together to accomplish that goal.”
Rev. Joe Glass has served as a mentor in the Louisville Public School District for about three years. Of those three years, he has had one year of mentoring an elementary student. He is presently helping at the Noxapater Attendance Center.
“Mentoring gives me an opportunity to try to help a student be able to accomplish their goals in life,” Glass said. “It also gives them someone else they can confide in. In addition, mentoring gives me an opportunity to converse with many other students while on campus.”
Glass said it has been a great opportunity for him to be able to help in this way.
For more information about the mentoring program at the Louisville Municipal School District, contact Bryant at (662) 773-3411.