Cape Launches District-Wide Mentorship Program
Cape Henlopen School District Mentor Coordinator Kim Hoey Stevenson is about to launch a program designed to help children in need of a positive relationship with a supportive adult.
The pandemic has taken a toll on children’s mental health, Hoey Stevenson said, and other children may be homeless or unstable in their family life.
Hoey Stevenson said he recently read a study that showed the average one-on-one time a child spends with an adult is only 13 minutes per day.
By having a dedicated mentor, said Hoey Stevenson, students will enjoy uninterrupted time with an adult for 30 minutes a week, during which they can play a game, read a book together, or just hang out talking about what is going on in their life.
All students, regardless of their educational ability or class rank, from Kindergarten to Grade 12 will be eligible for the program, said Hoey Stevenson. Students may be referred by a teacher or parent, or may refer themselves to receive a mentor.
Each school will have a mentor coordinator who manages the program for that building, said Hoey Stevenson, and she will oversee the entire program.
Mentors complete a free two-hour training course as part of the Creative Mentoring Program, which is used at many schools across the state to teach adults how to coach effectively and how to spot red flags that may signal the mentor. child needs more help, she said.
Mentor coordinators will work with mentors and students to find the right fit for each. Mentors can be adults, teachers and even high school students who will be working with younger students, Hoey Stevenson said.
Consistency is important, so mentors should commit to meeting their mentee once a week for 30 minutes during the school day, she said. The program will run from September to May of each school year.
For the relationship to really work, Stevenson said, it would be ideal if a mentor could work with a child from elementary to high school. Mentors must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear a mask in schools; a background check at no cost to the mentee is also required.
Hoey Stevenson urged mentees not to be patient when meeting their students.
âDon’t be discouraged if a connection doesn’t happen immediately,â she said. “Kids won’t necessarily trust you right away, but don’t give up.”
Hoey Stevenson grew up in Milford and now lives in Lewes with her husband and daughter, an elder from Cape High. She previously taught at Seaford Middle School and the Southern Delaware School of the Arts, and served as communications director for the Senate Minority Caucus.
Also a freelance writer, Hoey Stevenson is co-author of âOvercoming Misfortune: Children Who Beat the Odds,â which explores people who overcome adverse conditions and, against all odds, become successful adults.
âSomeone was there for them at the right time when they were needed most, so mentoring is important work,â she said, noting she eagerly accepted the post at Cape. “I wanted something where I could really make a difference in a child’s life.”
Cape Town’s director of educational support LouAnn Hudson said the district plans to launch the program in the 2019-2020 school year, but the pandemic has delayed its start.
All of the mentors had been trained and some had started meeting with students when the pandemic hit and schools were closed, she said, and some of those volunteers are back.
âThey want to be with the kids; they know a lot of kids have struggled, âsaid Hudson. âHaving an additional positive influence in the lives of students is never a bad thing. Due to COVID, volunteers have not been allowed into schools as usual, and we are ready to welcome them again. ”
With a large population of retired teachers and professionals in the area, Hudson said she hopes to see many volunteers sign up to help. Mentors can register to work with more than one child, she said, and many teachers and district administrators have already registered.
âIt’s the kind of staff we have here,â said Hudson. âSome kids can get that extra boost, and others just need a stable person in their life. It is powerful to see a child flourish.
To learn more about how to become a mentor, send an email [email protected]