The Mentoring Project of Bibb County – Community-Based Student Mentoring Results!
By June O’Neal
- How and Why the Mentor Program Was Begun
- A Successful Pilot Program was Gradually Implemented
- Recent Program Increases in Size and Governance Changes
- Mentoring Activities
- Other Formal Program Activities
- Program Purpose and Results
The Mentors Project was initiated in 1990 by the Education Committee of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce. Mentoring was selected as a strategy which research stated was a highly effective means to address the Chamber’s concerns for the success of students in the community. in fact, at that time, each year over 600 students in Bibb County Public Schools dropped out of school without being graduated.
A pilot student mentoring program was designed and implemented to provide adult mentors for these at-risk students. The pilot program began at Southeast High School. Soon, the encouraging stories about successful mentor/protégé pairs at Southeast High school prompted the further expansion of the program to the other schools in the area. Here is how the Bibb County Mentor Project grew from a pilot to a major program:
- Between 1991 and 1995 Central, Southwest, Westside and Northeast High Schools each adopted the Bibb County Mentor Program model.
- In 1996, both Miller and Appling Middle Schools joined the program to extend mentoring as a more proactive force to better support the success of potentially at-risk students in the middle grades.
- In 1999, Weaver Middle School joined the program ;
- In 2000, Ballard Middle School joined the Bib County Mentoring Project.
Over the past few years the Mentoring Program has grown from a handful of mentors in one school to more than 130 in nine schools. This has happened because the success was developed in one school first and student and adult leaders from that school successfully mentored the newer programs as each new school was added to the project.
Recently, as the program grew and was improved, the governance of this program was changed. It is now run under the guidance of a separate, nonprofit agency governed by its own board of directors.
Mentors spend a minimum of four hours a month with their protégés. Many spend more, but that is at their own discretion. Mentor-protégé contact may happen during school lunch visits, phone calls, or personal meetings for breakfast together or after school snacks and discussions. Many pairs also take occasional outings or trips, which are encouraged.
Seminars are held throughout the year to offer students information on financial aid for higher education, strategies for staying off drugs, and self-esteem building. As a result, the students begin to realize that their own attitudes are the determining factor in their own success.
Community Service projects such as feeding the homeless are a big part of the Mentors Project. Through involvement in such service work, the students gain an appreciation of the privilege of giving back to others and learn to take pride in and responsibility for their own community.
The Mentors Project of Bibb County, Inc. offers students an opportunity to dream big and understand exactly how their dreams can be realized. This happens because the program has the student proteges work with their mentors to chart a course for success by journaling in workbooks that specifically guide them to focus on career goals and objectives and develop a plan for working with their mentor and others to achieve it.
The current Mentors Project of Bibb County, Inc. program purpose states that the program provides disadvantaged students motivation through the encouragement of an adult mentor role model who helps students learn to be a success and to reach their potential. People sometimes ask program leaders the extent to which the Bibb County Mentors Project actually achieves is purpose. The results are outstanding and speak for themselves!
First, mentoring provides rewarding opportunities for the adults to benefit as they become a positive influence in a student’s life. That the mentors benefit is a well known fact.
Next, through their match with a middle or high school student in Bibb County, mentors’ one-to-one relationships provide a strong motivating force that builds benefits for students too. The program has a proven positive impact of the students’ self-esteem and academic performance. Ninety percent of the at-risk students enrolled in our program have been saved from dropping out of school or from receiving in-school suspension or assignment to one of the alternative schools.
In the process of empowering students for a better future, the Mentors Project of Bibb County, Inc. provides a support system to ensure that more students consider post high school educational or training options, positively affect the students’ behaviors and attitudes, enhance the students’ self-confidence, improve the ability to resist negative peer pressure including drinking, drugs, and pregnancy.
If you would like to make a difference in a child’s life, become a mentor in a program like the Bibb County Student Mentoring Program.