W - HS HAWK Mentor

Jay Porter in a weekly visit with a mentoring student. The mentoring program has been active for five years.

HIGH SPRINGS – For the past five years, men and women have given their time to mentoring students at High Springs Community School as part of HAWKS Mentoring Program.

Danette Drageset coordinates the program by matching up social and academic mentors with students from the first to eighth grades who have been recommended by teachers and staff.

“It is almost like working a Sudoku puzzle, really,” she said, “finding what works for the students and what works for the mentors.”

Volunteer mentors give their preferences for age and provide their availability to be matched with students accordingly. Students receive extra homework for things like spelling or multiplication tables. They also have the opportunity to talk with someone about positive choices and time management.

Mentors are people who are giving whatever time they have for the participating kids, Drageset said, and she is appreciative. Thirty minutes of discussion or study help can make a difference, she said.

“As much as or as little time as you have is all it takes.”

She said she strives to make the experience fun not just for the child but also the volunteer. If the same students and mentors participate year after year, she keeps them together in an effort to forge bonds between them.

“It’s cool to stay one with the same students and see them grow,” Drageset said.

She plans to have a mentors and students meeting by mid-September after the kids settle in to the routine of a new school year. Their interactions will be focused on organizational skills and talking and working through scenarios for constructive choices, goals and class behavior.

“The mentoring program is just extra time spent reinforcing basic skills that will help the kids be more successful,” Drageset said.

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