A new mentoring program coordinated by Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins and Hillsboro City Schools designed to assist high-performing but at-risk students is an excellent idea – but it’s in danger of not happening if more people don’t sign up.
The Pals with a Purpose Mentor Program “envisions a community in which higher achieving, at-risk youth experience nurturing, one-to-one relationships and community support.”
At a Hillsboro Rotary Club meeting last October, Collins said she was motivated to help establish the program after a 15-year-old was charged with cooking methamphetamine. “A 15-year-old should not be cooking meth, or addicted to meth,” said Collins. “We’ve got to do something to get our kids back on track.”
The program works this way. Participating mentors will be paired with first or second-grade elementary children and will follow students through high school, visiting their mentee at least twice a month at the school and having activity kits to choose from to promote college and career readiness.
Working with Jim Smith, superintendent of Hillsboro City Schools, and Jessica Jordan, a second grade teacher at Hillsboro Elementary, Collins said the program is designed to kick off in 2017 shortly after the Highland County Fair concludes. By then, she hopes qualified mentors who apply and pass a background check will be in place. Hopefully, once it is established in Hillsboro, the program can be expanded to other school districts in Highland County.
“Some of these kids just need someone to tell them they’ve done a good job, someone to be excited about what they’re doing,’ said Collins.
But last month, Collins said the project is in danger of not happening because of how few people have stepped forward to offer their time and service to steer students away from drugs and other bad influences.
We encourage people to examine whether they can devote a relatively small amount of their time to make a big difference for at-risk students. For more information or to begin the application process, contact Jessica Jordan at [email protected] or Anneka Collins at [email protected].