Contributed by: Gretchen Wilson-Tuck, Safe School Healthy Student’s Family Outreach Coordinator and Mentoring Program Coordinator
Published by: The Cochran Journal
Mentoring is still going strong in Bleckley County! Perhaps you’ve seen the billboard at the four-way stop on your way to school? It depicts five individuals smiling and challenging you with the title, “WE MENTOR IN BLECKLEY COUNTY! WHY DON’T YOU?” To date we have 27 adults who have stepped up to the plate to make a once a week commitment to enhance a child’s life. . Mentors bring a fresh perspective to a youth by their own life’s experience, talents and struggles. Who among us can’t think of at least one person who has inspired us along the way to adulthood? Can you imagine that person not having been a part of your life? What impact did they have on you?
January is National Mentoring Month and we begin by featuring Mrs. Holly Savant and Selena Johnson, an eighth grader at Bleckley County Middle School. Selena and Holly were matched at the beginning of the school year because of their similar personalities and interests in art and language arts. It was clear that a perfect match had been made upon their first meeting. They soon decided that they wanted to paint on canvas and focus on art projects. Mrs. Savant brought canvases and bottles of brightly colored paint for their first session. A friendship was beginning between the two of them that has only gotten stronger as the weeks have passed.
I recently visited the pair to find out what the mentoring program has meant to them. As I walked in the door, they were both smiling, surrounded by hot buttered biscuits, juice and art supplies. Fun was in the air and I didn’t want to take up too much of their time together as they only get to meet once a week for up to one hour. Selena was quick to say that she wasn’t sure she was going to like the mentoring program at first, but, her family encouraged her to meet just once. She said that she and Mrs. Savant hit it off from the first time they met sharing a love for art, writing, shopping, drawing and of course, biscuits!! She said that she can’t wait for Tuesdays. “My Mentor is someone that I trust with whatever is bothering me. She always gives me fair advice. My friends hear about all the things we do together and they want a Mentor too!” So the word is out amongst the students at BCMS!
Mrs. Savant, a mother herself, was excited and nervous when she heard that she was going to be matched with Selena. She said, “I was worried I wasn’t cool enough for an eighth grader!” She stated that within the first five minutes she knew they were perfect for each other! Mrs. Savant really enjoys doing artistic projects with her own children; however, sometimes it’s hard to fit it in her schedule. She knows that at least once a week she will be able to have a creative outlet. She literally leaves the school from seeing Selena and her thoughts turn to thinking about all the imaginative things they can do together next time.
Holly challenges the adults in our community to mentor. She said, “Just do it! Saying that the program has its rewards is so cliché’, but it is absolutely true. I believe that the Communities In Schools/Family Connection mentoring program gives kids purpose, but, it gives me purpose too. I don’t think people in Bleckley County know that there are so many kids are waiting for us to do this.
Regina Smith, Safe Schools Healthy Students Project Director, says that the mentoring program is one of the many initiatives sponsored by Communities In Schools of Cochran and Bleckley county and the Family connection Community Partnership also known as the Cochran/Bleckley Community Collaborative. Through CIS, which is a local non-profit, we bring all partners together in our community to collaborate and work together to surround our most at-risk students with support. We also provide a comprehensive 21st Century Learning Center after school tutorial program, Abstinence Education program, and our SSHS initiative provides Family Case Management, Mental Health, Prevention and Parent Educations services. Regina added, “We are very fortunate in Bleckley County to have Gretchen Wilson-Tuck to head up our mentoring program. Gretchen is committed to ensuring the success of this program as well as the students served by each of her mentors.”
Come join our Marvelous Mentors and make a difference in lives of children of Bleckley County!!! Call Gretchen Wilson-Tuck, SSHS Family Outreach Coordinator, at 934-4300 or 934-7270 if you are interested in knowing more about the program or would like to sign up for our next training session!