Raising The Grade: Mentors

Thursday, September 23rd 2004, 10:12 am
By: News On 6

Every school age child having a mentor would be ideal. For one Oklahoma City elementary school, it's a reality.

News on 6 reporter Kia Malone explains in this Raising The Grade report, how the mentoring program at Western Village Elementary School is making a difference.

On any given Monday afternoon, you'll find 5th grader Cameron Bryant impressing his mentors with his knowledge. It's his second year paired with Jeff Brown and Denise Roper, his team of mentors.

He is one of 300 students at Western Village who has a mentor. The school started its mentoring program five year ago. Then there were only 45 mentors, now there are more than 300 mentors, at least one for every child. Western Village principal Peggy Brinson: “and for our kids, they count on that hour a week that they get. Just completely unconditional, uninterrupted time. And I think that in itself is something that the kids can't help but remember. That they have someone who really really cares about them. Just to give them that time."

It's made a significant difference in student performance. In five years since the program start, test scores went from the teens and 20th percentile to the 60th and 70th percentile. Discipline referrals have decreased from more than 550 office referrals a year down to just 20 to 30 a year at most.

Cameron's performance also improved. “In reading, I was in the 3rd grade reading level, now I'm in the 5th grade reading level. In one year you did that? Yeah.”

And his attributes his success to his mentors. Cameron’s mentor Jeff Brown: “he's more confident, I definitely see it in his school work where he's really, he's really made a lot of progress and done really well.”

Cameron’s other mentor Denise Roper: “he seems to work a lot harder in the classroom. He seems more respectful of his teachers and all the adults around. It's a nice evolution to see him grow up and mature a lot.”

But it's not only about making sure he's a good student. They're helping to shape him into a good person, while having fun. ”We both are big sports enthusiasts so talk a lot about football, basketball, so it's a lot of fun. He's a good kid.”

And Cameron is making a difference in their lives. “I'm a little more patient. Different days Cameron sometimes wants to do something else. So I have to keep him on task. Sometimes we'll say you give me 30 minutes of work time and 30 minutes of football.”

Cameron Bryant: “it doesn't make a difference what kind of mood I’m in. Once I come to school and once I leave the school, I’m in a much better mood and better frame of mind.”

If you would like to sign up to be a mentor, call your local school district.