Chamber plays major role in Rome schools’ mentoring program


In partnership with the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce and the New York State Mentoring Program, the Rome City School District launched a mentoring program in three of its elementary schools during the 2016-17 academic year.

According to Chamber President William K. Guglielmo, the chamber has played a vital role in recruiting volunteers to serve as mentors.

Due to the success of the program’s first year of operation, the Rome school district expanded the mentoring sites from three to five schools during the 2017-18 academic year, with more than 40 volunteer mentors assigned to Bellamy, Denti, Gansevoort, Joy, and Staley schools.

Rome Schools Superintendent Peter C. Blake plans to eventually include all seven of the district’s elementary schools in the program, the aim of which is to help children develop self-esteem, improve social skills, learn respect for others, and achieve personal success.

Students and mentors meet once a week after school for 60 minutes, under the direction of school-approved site coordinators, for one-to-one mentoring and group discussions. They also participate in special projects and activities.

With the support of the chamber’s Board Chairman Franca Armstrong, Education Committee Chair Debbie Grogan, and the members of the board of directors, the chamber has promoted the school program through mass emailings, news releases, radio interviews and informational meetings.

As prospective mentors notify the chamber of their interest in volunteering, their contact information is forwarded to the NYS Mentoring Program for processing.

Among the mentors this year are volunteers from local businesses, government agencies, and organizations, including the Air Force Research Laboratory at Griffiss, the Eastern Air Defense Sector, the Defense Finance and Accounting Services center, and Rome’s United Way. Several mentors are retired; one is a student at MVCC. Two husband-and-wife teams and a mother-daughter duo also participate as volunteer mentors.

Frank P. Di Berardino of Rome, who is a member of the NYS Mentoring Program’s Advisory Council, noted that the community can be proud of the enthusiasm and commitment of school officials, business leaders, and volunteers who are working to make a positive difference in the lives of our children. 

In May 2016, Matilda Cuomo, mother of current Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and widow of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, visited Rome to meet with local education officials, and personally thanked the district’s volunteer mentors for their time and service in helping children. As the First Lady of New York in 1983, Matilda Cuomo wanted to create a state program in which children facing hardships are paired with a mentor who would support them.

For more information on the mentoring program visit:


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