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Mentoring Program Bringing Pryor Community Closer Together

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Early every Wednesday morning in Pryor, the elementary school kids gather a few blocks from their schools and walk the rest of the way with other community members. Early every Wednesday morning in Pryor, the elementary school kids gather a few blocks from their schools and walk the rest of the way with other community members.
The high school baseball team is sharing a good read with the kids over at Roosevelt. The high school baseball team is sharing a good read with the kids over at Roosevelt.
Beverly Woodrome oversees the Boren Mentoring Initiative at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. Beverly Woodrome oversees the Boren Mentoring Initiative at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
PRYOR, Oklahoma -

Are you still looking for a New Year's Resolution? Maybe that weight loss thing hasn't gone so well.

If so, how about joining the folks in Pryor in this National Mentoring Month and become a mentor? It's another way to make Oklahoma 'So Much More.'

Special Coverage: So Much More

It's really quite something to see. Early every Wednesday morning in Pryor, the elementary school kids gather a few blocks from their schools and walk the rest of the way.

Moms and dads and grandparents join in, and so do high school students like Maddie Barham.

What began as a fitness walk has evolved into something bigger and stronger; call it a mentor march - a sunrise saunter that's led the way to a more caring community.

“What my family did last night to what I ate this morning for breakfast, it's just a wide range of conversation,” Barham said.

Conversations build friendships and friendships build trust, and trust is one of the building blocks of mentorship.

“A mentor is a person who guides a less experienced, often younger person in developing themselves and in developing self-confidence,” said Beverly Woodrome, who oversees the Boren Mentoring Initiative at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

She said mentors are positive role models, and Oklahoma could use a lot more of that.

So about the same time Barham and the kids reach Jefferson Elementary, the high school baseball team is sharing a good read with the kids over at Roosevelt.

Pryor High School student, Gaige Mendivil said, “As soon as we walk in the door, whenever we get here they're jumping up and screaming our names.”

“Oh, it makes me happy, especially if I'm having a bad day at school, I can look forward to coming to see these kids cause they're always excited, makes me happier,” said Pryor High School student, Marco Blalock.

Second-grader, Cody Grass said, “They read to us, and I'm pretty sure they probably really do good things to other people also.”

Baseball coach Gerald Osborne makes sure of that. He's one of more than 400 Oklahoma coaches who've signed on to the Boren Initiative's Coaches Challenge and brought his team along for the life's lessons they'll gain.

“Baseball's important; we want to win and all that good stuff, but we're gonna give up an hour of what we think is important to something is gonna be more important in your life later on,” he said.

Mentoring, done right, is a two-way street.

“It's our job, kind of, to mentor these kids, to help them 'cause you never know what kind of impact you can make in them just by coming for one day,” said Pryor High School student, Drew Miller.

Quincy Normandin's come to understand that. He works at the town's big Google plant and shares what he knows of science at the high school.

“This is probably the best thing I've done in my adult life. I've gone from just taking it all in and more or less blowing it off, to I feel like I'm giving back and actually giving something credible,” he said.

That Pryor has seen a city-wide embrace of mentoring is largely the many years’ work of school superintendent Don Raleigh.

“I think that gives them an awareness that this world is something I'm gonna have to be a part of, and I can actually make a difference and I can have a contribution that's, maybe, positive to our community and maybe something besides myself,” Raleigh said.

Something that just naturally comes with the territory now for those living in Oklahoma's mentoring Mecca.

Mentoring's not just for schools, it can happen anywhere - in your business, civic club or neighborhood.

If you’d like to learn more about the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, you can find more information here.

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