Student mentors pay off in Alcorn schools

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – Mentoring children in first through eighth grade is having a powerful impact in the Alcorn County School District.
Program Director Tammie Ray told school board members this week that in the three years the Community Connections Mentoring Program has been in place, about 155 mentors have worked with children in the district.
“We are seeing tremendous results,” she said. “Mentors are giving students courage to make the right choices. It’s inspiring to know that our students’ lives are being forever changed by having a mentor – a caring, consistent, positive role model.”
A grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that finances the program is in its final year, with an October 2011 completion date. However, Ray is hoping they will find funding to continue the program.
“Parents have written in and principals and members of the community spoke at the board meeting about how much difference the program is making,” she said.
Some of the issues and struggles students encounter daily include peer pressure, sex, drugs, alcohol, low self-esteem, eating disorders, bullying, learning disabilities and economic conditions. The program aims to help students build coping skills in those areas.
“High school mentors have created a five-minute skit that answers questions from their perspective,” Ray said. “We have been proactive in devising some prevention as well as intervention strategies.”
In addition to meeting with elementary students one hour a week, high school mentors have formed a Teens Against Tobacco Use group.

Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@journalinc.com.