SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 170
September 10, 1999
|FROM:||Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Over the past few months, Attorney General Mark Earley has worked to recruit mentors for children as a way to prevent juvenile crime, youth violence, and gang involvement. He recently launched a new initiative, Virginia's Future: Building Up the First Generation of the New Century! This is why our office has engaged in a partnership with Attorney General Mark Earley to raise 2000 new mentors this year. A mentor is someone who cares about our youth and is committed to making a difference in his or her life. A mentor is also considered a friend who can offer companionship and a listening ear to a child in need. National experts have identified that children who are mentored are less likely to engage in violence, drug use, or truancy. Experts further reveal that these children are more likely to complete their education and get along better with their family members. Therefore, as these mentors are recruited, it would be a good use of these resources if they had the opportunity to mentor in the schools under our direction. Many school divisions already have mentoring programs in place. If not, we encourage them to start one. The Lunch (or Breakfast) Buddies program is attractive to many and is an ideal first step in mentoring because it involves only one lunch (or breakfast) a month. Typically, the school would pair mentors with those students (preferably the same students for the entire school year) who could benefit from mentoring. The school would then set up a time for the mentors to meet with the students for about one and one half-hours and get to know them, help them with their homework, and show them that they are important. In addition, the school would let the mentors know of any significant events in which their lunch (or breakfast) buddies are participating so they could attend if possible. The next important task is for principals and teachers to welcome citizens to come to the school and mentor students in a safe environment. Mentors can be business persons, government employees, college personnel or private citizens -- any person who believes in teaching youth the value of education, personal responsibility, and good citizenship. As the Attorney General and our office work in collaboration to raise mentors, please have programs in place to welcome the mentors and provide a secure time and place for them to meet with our students. The Office of Compensatory Programs recently provided copies of two mentoring documents to all Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) Coordinators. They were: *Developing a School-Based Mentor Program for At Risk Youth, and *Handbook for Mentors. These materials were originally developed in 1995 by the Communities in School (CIS) program in Chesterfield County under a grant from the Office of the Governor, utilizing SDFSCA funds. The materials were updated and revised in late 1998. We are indebted to the CIS program personnel for granting permission for duplication rights. As a result of their kind gesture, the mentoring materials have been reprinted by the Virginia Department of Education for statewide distribution. Upon request, copies are available from the department, free of charge. An order form is enclosed. For information about the CIS Program in Chesterfield County, contact Martha Frickert at (804) 560-5706. For information about a Lunch/Breakfast Buddy Program, contact Dayle Dunn, specialist, school- business partnerships and volunteer programs, Richmond City Public Schools at (804) 780-7711. Another important resource is the National Mentoring Partnership's website (http://www.mentoring.org). Questions about the SDFSCA Program in Virginia should be directed to Arlene Cundiff at (804) 225-2871. PDS:ADC:tsc Enclosure: A hard copy of this memo and its attachment will be sent to the Superintendent's office.