GCISD mentor Michelle Rourke sat at Cross Timbers Middle School, wondering how the next 40 minutes would go. Would she like me? Would she want to talk with me? How will I make a connection with her? Then, after their first meeting, all those questions faded.
"I was really nervous and excited and wasn't sure how to begin," Rourke said. "I asked some basic questions and we just spent time getting to know each other. Afterward I was really excited and I thought, 'Ok, I really can make a difference in somebody's life.' And I could tell she was excited I was there. It makes me feel really good that I'm doing something good for someone."
Rourke has been mentoring in GCISD for about a year and has developed a strong positive connection with her student. Now, 102 more parents, school leaders and community members have accepted the challenge to be mentor to a GCISD student. In November, Superintendent Dr. Robin Ryan issued a district-wide community challenge to sign up adult mentors through the district's partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).
"I am so thankful for the response of 102 community members who answered the call to personally impact the life of a student through mentoring," Ryan said. "These caring adults are going to have amazing experiences with our students and they will not only impact the life of a child, but that child will have a profound impact on them as well. I am confident that the word about the power of mentoring will spread and our program will continue to grow each year."
Being a mentor makes a difference. Research shows that children who have a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program:
- Have higher hope for their future.
- Are more likely to stay in school.
- Are less likely to use alcohol or illegal drugs.
- Are less likely to engage in negative conflict.
- Are more encouraged in their decision to attend college.
- Have a stronger belief in their ability to succeed.
The partnership with BBBS is made possible through the efforts of CONNECT (Connecting Student Needs with Community Resources), a program adopted under the Grapevine-Colleyville Education Foundation in a joint venture to serve the students, employees and families of GCISD.
Parents/guardians, employees, business leaders and residents in surrounding communities can sign up to serve as a "Big" (mentor) to a "Little" (student). Through a comprehensive matching process, each mentor is paired with a specific student and will build positive relationships as well as provide emotional support and guidance. Mentors in GCISD meet at the school during designated times for 30 minutes to an hour a week. No after-hours or weekend activities are required.
"It's not a big time commitment and the time with your Little goes really fast," Rourke said. "It's really fun and the Big Brothers Big Sisters people help you along the way. I feel so good to be able to help "