Volunteer mentors give students a leg up on education

Published Aug 13, 2018 at 4:00pm

Wanted: 56 to 70 volunteer mentors from the community who are willing to dedicate an hour per week from mid-November to mid-May next year teaching a young student.

Because of its past success, the Rome school district’s student mentoring program, designed to help elementary school children achieve their full potential, is expanding to all seven of the district’s elementary schools beginning this fall, said Superintendent Peter C. Blake.

The program began at three elementary schools in the 2016-17 year, and increased to five schools in 2017-18 before the latest expansion.

The seven elementary schools are Bellamy, Denti, Gansevoort, Joy, Ridge Mills, Staley and Stokes.

The Rome Area Chamber of Commerce, which is in partnership with the New York State (NYS) Mentoring Program and the Rome school district, is leading the recruitment process.

Chamber President William K. Guglielmo said the organization’s board of directors and its education committee have begun recruiting mentors from the business community as well as Rome’s general population. The effort is being led by Deborah Grogan, education committee chair.

The background check and fingerprinting procedures for mentors are being coordinated by Brad DiPietro, Eastern New York Director of the NYS Mentoring Program, who also will provide mentor training and in-service support throughout the school year. He said Rome’s program over the past two years has been “very impressive, a model for other communities.”

Frank P. Di Berardino, who serves on the NYS Mentoring Program’s Advisory Council, said the statewide program was established in 2015 by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and is chaired by former New York First Lady Matilda R. Cuomo.

So, if you’re 18 years or older and willing to devote an hour a week, contact Guglielmo at 315-337-1700 or DiBerardino at 315-337-4721. There are other criteria before the first sessions in mid-November, and they can fill you in.