At Gladstone Elementary School, the community mentoring partnership is an important one.
Gladstone is a large school with a high poverty, high ELL student population, making it a perfect fit for an on-site, one-to-one mentoring program. Principal Susan Buonanno has been building such a program for the past several years, and is again reaching out to groups, organizations, and individuals in hopes of attracting new mentors looking to impact the lives of Gladstone students.
“We have had a great mentor program here at Gladstone,” she said. “In the past we have hosted groups of employees from Taco who have toured the school, met the students, and have mentored students. The problem, which is a good one to have, is that the relationships grow strong and the mentors stay with the students they’re paired up with when the students move on to their next school and beyond, so each year we look to establish new partnerships for the new year, and we look to replenish our supply of mentors.”
On Oct. 26, Gladstone will be hosting a mentor training session from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for those interested in being a mentor or hearing more about the program.
“This year I’ve even put out an all-call to our own faculty, and I already have at least one faculty member being trained and I am being trained as well,” she said. “We are such a great school. We have so many kids in need of positive role models in their lives.”
Gabe Santiago, a fourth-grader at Gladstone, truly enjoys and looks forward to his mentor meetings. He and his mentor, Marilyn, read, play games, and talk in one of the many special spots set up in the school for mentors to interact with the students.
“What I like about when Marilyn comes is that I get to talk to her about everything I ever did,” Santiago said. “I can trust her and she is very nice to me and does special things with me.”
Buonanno cites Santiago as being just one of many success stories of mentoring at Gladstone Elementary School.
“The reading he does with his mentor helps with his academic needs, he trusts her and looks forward to their visits, and she does as well. She’s really taken an interest in him,” she said.
Santiago and his peers also look forward not just to the weekly visits, but to the end-of-the-year culminating activities as well.
“The Taco group of mentors hosts a special end-of-the-year event for their mentors, and the kids get to go there on a bus and take a tour of the facility and then they host a special lunch for the mentors and the kids that are their mentees,” Buonanno said. “Everyone looks forward to that event. They come to us all year long, so at the end of the year, we get to go and visit them.”
Each year, Buonanno hears from mentors that the impact and sense of reward is more than they even anticipated and that the positive relationship has benefited them as well as the students.
“It is such an opportunity to make a positive difference and to establish positive relationships with our students,” she said. “It really does take the efforts of a whole community to support our kids, and it’s important that we continue to grow this program.”
Anyone interested in participating in the training can contact Buonanno at 401-270-8080 or email@example.com.