HOUSTON – Feb. 2, 2021 – Spring ISD is seeking community members interested in joining its new mentoring program, The Vine. The program will serve students at campuses across the district, connecting them with caring adults specially trained to provide an additional level of support to help students be successful in school and beyond.
“We need mentors that are committed to helping students achieve their dreams,” said Spring ISD Executive Director of Community Engagement Deeone McKeithan. “We’re looking for people who are passionate about seeing the next generation of our kids succeed in becoming lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and responsible citizens who display good character.”
Mentor training has already begun for some campuses, and the district is currently seeking new mentors 21 and older who are interested in working with a Spring ISD student for between 30 to 60 minutes a week throughout the school year. The Vine welcomes adult mentors of all ages and from a diversity of backgrounds, cultures and occupations.
“We want to be able to reach every child, that’s the key,” McKeithan said. “Whatever child desires and needs a mentor, we want to make sure that we have such a diverse pool of mentors available that they’re able to support the needs we have throughout the district.”
The program aims to give students an additional trusted source of encouragement, support, empowerment and guidance. Campuses will refer students to the Vine program for a variety of reasons; however, parents and students can also voluntarily request a mentor from the Vine program. Regardless of how the student enters into the program, the students must agree and their parents must give permission.
“We’re dealing with some unprecedented times in education, and while some students are doing well, it’s been a difficult transition for everyone, and that takes a toll,” McKeithan said. “As their village, we need to make sure that we’re providing all of our students and families with the support, the tools and resources they need in order to continue to build their confidence, help with their focus, and just provide them a source of encouragement.”
Following an application and background check process, new mentors will attend an orientation training to learn about the program’s rules and expectations before working with students. Campus liaisons are already recruiting students, but interested parents can also contact their child’s campus about the program.
“One of the things we know for sure – and that research tells us – is that mentoring, when it’s done well, will help improve academic performance,” McKeithan said. “It will reduce serious discipline infractions and provide the mentee an opportunity to develop a more positive attitude towards school, while at the same time strengthening their leadership and communication skills.”
All mentoring will be virtual for the time being. Once visitors are allowed back on campus, in-person meetings will be held in open, monitored environments such as school libraries. The program looks not only to address short-term needs, but also to help students achieve greater long-term success as well as college and career readiness.
“This work can absolutely change lives,” said Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson. “There are many factors that go into our students’ success, but one of the most important is having consistent, positive, encouraging relationships with adults who care – including teachers and mentors. This is a wonderful opportunity for members of our community to influence the life of a young person. If you feel called to this work, I’d encourage you to take the leap.”
To learn more about The Vine Mentoring Program and how to get involved, please contact Dr. Lorena Zertuche, community engagement coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.