Rock Hill schools prepare for districtwide mentoring

The Rock Hill school district is working on plans for a one-on-one mentoring program for students the district deems at risk.

The program, which is planned to start in January, would pair students with an adult mentor whom they would meet with once a week.

To kick-start the Power of Mentoring program, the district will hold fundraising events for the next three weekends. There will be an alumni football game and family fun day Saturday, followed by a motorcycle ride Sept. 29 and a golf tournament Oct. 6.

Money from the events will go toward program costs such as workbooks, training modules, field trips and celebration activities, said Luanne Kokolis, a district associate superintendent.

Kokolis said the program was designed to give students a positive adult role model.

"We want to develop a relationship that gives an opportunity for the child to share conversation with another adult," she said. "There could be some academic tutoring involved, it could be a social relationship over lunch time."

The program will start in six elementary schools, which have not been picked, and later will expand throughout the district. A mentor program coordinator will be hired in the next few weeks.

"I would think that once we have a mentoring program in all our elementary schools, and we get some ... indicators that are showing, hopefully, a positive change, then we can grow into the middle schools and into the high schools," Kokolis said.

Sharon Givens, who works with the state Department of Education and trains people who are working on mentoring programs, said that well-planned mentor programs can be beneficial for the students and their schools.

"Many times it gives students something positive to look forward to in their day," she said. "It can be a tool to keep them in school. With the younger kids, it can help develop a positive attitude about school."

That's one result Assistant Principal Desmond Cato has seen with Northwestern High School's own mentoring program.

"We see that kids start receiving less referrals almost automatically," Cato said.

Northwestern is one of several schools in the district that already has some form of mentoring program.

Those programs are specific to the schools, while the new program will be districtwide.