Think back to when you were younger: was there one person that was super special in your life? Did they guide you, help you make decisions and act as the sounding board you needed? That special person may have mentored you through difficult times and now, is maybe a special friend. January is National Mentoring Month, with a campaign that focuses national attention on the need for mentors, as well as how each of us—individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits—can work together to increase the number of mentors to help ensure positive outcomes for our young people.
Here in our community, the Danbury Schools and Business Collaborative (DSABC) is celebrating the lasting effect that DSABC mentors have on Danbury Public School (DPS) students as well as expanding quality mentoring opportunities to connect more of Danbury’s students with positive adult role models. DSABC fosters collaboration among Danbury Public Schools, local businesses and the community to promote lifelong learning and the successful transition of youth into society and the workforce. The mission of DSABC is to help DPS students achieve personal and academic success through school-based mentoring.
The DSABC One-on-One Mentoring Program provides positive models to at-risk students, grades K – 12. The program matches each student with a supportive and caring adult who assists them to succeed in school by providing moral support and encouragement. Mentors spend one hour a week with their mentee during the school day. The objective of the program is to improve academic performance, attendance, behavior, attitude toward school, and most importantly, self-esteem and motivation. The long-term goal is dropout prevention. There are currently 160 one-on-one mentors working with DPS students.
Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible choices, attend and engage in school and reduce or avoid risky behavior like drug use. Sally, a seventh-grade mentee, says: “When my life turned really bad and I felt I couldn’t talk to my parents, my mentor helped me to understand why I should talk to my parents – that they wouldn’t be mad but could help me make an important decision. If my mentor hadn’t helped me, I probably would have dropped out of school.”
Today, in Danbury, there are over 100 more students who could benefit from having a mentor. Let’s capitalize on National Mentoring Month to further engage with our community members and make a difference in the lives of DPS students. Please consider mentoring a student – all it takes is one hour a week! Families who believe their children would benefit from a mentor should talk to their teacher, school social worker or school counselor.
Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.