0

GCPS hears of mentoring program's success

Special Photo A group of Community-Based Mentors pose for a photo. According to Gwinnett County Public Schools, the group assists at-risk middle school black males to foster their social and academic development.

Special Photo A group of Community-Based Mentors pose for a photo. According to Gwinnett County Public Schools, the group assists at-risk middle school black males to foster their social and academic development.

SUWANEE -- Officials with Gwinnett County Public Schools heard from leaders of the Community-Based Mentor program this week, a group which assists at-risk middle school-age black males to foster their social and academic development.

According to a report from Executive Director James Taylor, 80 percent of those students involved in the program improved their grades in all four core subjects.

Since its beginning in 2009, the program has expanded to include five full-time staff members, with 95 mentors trained and 301 students served.

Taylor said that research has identified three primary risk factors that adversely affect graduation: grades, attendance and discipline.

"If they're not in the classroom, they're not learning, they're not going to graduate," he said. "We understand that if a child is having discipline problems, there's usually something there, and our mentors play a huge role in determining what are the causes ... and what the child needs."

School Board Member Robert McClure commended Taylor and director James Rayford. "It's a good program, a critical program," McClure said.

Taylor said that those involved with the program are "excited about where we are, but we're not satisfied with where we are. There's always room for improvement."

The program began in the 2008-09 school year at the request of Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks and the board of education. Its mission statement: "to provide community-based mentoring services to identified at-risk middle school black males to foster their social and academic development."

According to Taylor, mentors are made up of businessmen, educators, clergymen and law enforcement. To learn more about the program, visit http://bit.ly/16VUVvo.