Kickoff event promotes benefits of mentoring

For those wondering what it takes to be a mentor in Douglas County, the MATCH mentor kickoff breakfast held Aug. 29 helped fill them in. Douglas County School System employees and school board members, along with seasoned and potential mentors, gathered at the GreyStone Power auditorium for the event.

“Our theme this year is ‘mentoring works.’ This kickoff gives us the opportunity to bring returning mentors back and allow potential mentors to learn more about the program,” said Mitzi Teal, Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Douglas County, Inc.

Teal introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Susan G. Weinberger, and praised her for supporting Douglas County’s mentoring program. “Our mentoring program has very solid best practices and training materials thanks to Dr. Weinberger,” Teal said.

Dr. Weinberger encouraged mentors to advocate for their mentees, and she challenged mentoring programs to provide opportunities for youth in poverty to receive all the resources they need to “break the cycle of poverty.” She also stressed the correlation between mentoring programs and increased high school graduation rates.

“Keeping youth in school through high school graduation should be the number one goal of mentoring programs,” Dr. Weinberger remarked. She cited research that identifies attendance as one of the three primary predictors of whether a student will drop out of school. “Evidence suggests that developing a close relationship with a mentor leads to better academic outcomes for students,” she added.

Dr. Weinberger, who is also known as “Dr. Mentor,” received President Clinton’s Volunteer Action Award in 1993 for her work in mentoring. She is the founder of the Mentor Consulting Group (MCG), which offers services to organizations seeking guidance in planning and implementing safe and effective mentoring programs.

For those interested in becoming a mentor in the Douglas County School System, email mentor@douglas.k12.ga.us.

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