Tusculum College Student Alumni Association develops ‘Mentors for Kids’ program with Hal Henard Elementary School
A five-week pilot program, “Tusculum College’s Mentors for Kids” wrapped up at the College this week with a dinner celebrating the participants’ completion of the program. The nine third-grade students from Hal Henard Elementary School participating in the pilot program, sponsored by the College’s Student Alumni Association, were recognized, as were the student mentors from the College.
“The goal of the program is to motivate youth to achieve their potential by fostering inspiration to transform lives, education to change attitudes and connections to increase opportunities by pairing elementary students with Tusculum College students for weekly activities that expose the youth to the opportunities of higher education,” said Cody Greene, coordinator of development and alumni relations for the College.
As for Hal Henard Elementary School, Tusculum College’s Mentors for Kids Program is part of an overall effort on the part of the school to get their students interested in college and to have them start thinking about it now.
“What I want to see is our kids developing the idea that they can go to college,” said Ken Fay, principal at Hal Henard Elementary School. “A lot of them don’t see it as a possibility.” Fay added that in addition to the mentors program, the school has taken students on college visits, hung college flags in the hallways and begun talking about college in the classroom.
As for the program, according to Hal Henard student Alex Grant, the whole thing was a success.
“It was a really fun,” said Grant. His mother, Charlotte Grant, added that he had been excited about the program since he found out he would get the chance to participate. “He was excited about his opportunity to get to go to college,” she said. “This is a great program for Alex, and something he really needs.”
Asked during the program what they liked best about the program, the Hal Henard students’ answers varied from “learning about history” to “getting to spend time with my “big buddy.”
According to Greene, Tusculum College’s Mentors for Kids program works on two levels, allowing the college students the opportunity to work with young people, while helping the elementary students develop their ideas of what college is about and what it can mean for their futures.
As an elementary education major, Tusculum College student Candace Babb got involved in the program because she loves working with children. But in addition, she found that as a commuter student, it also gave her a link to be involved with other residential students and feel more a part of campus life.
“It was great working with the children in a different atmosphere. With the program it was more personal, like you were adopting a little brother,” said Babb. “The best part was interacting individually and building those relationships. By the end you could really see they had a sense of ‘I can go to college, or I want to go to college.’”
The Tusculum College students said they learned much from the youngsters from Hal Henard and enjoyed their time in the program. Alicja Dembna said she appreciated the enthusiasm and joy of life that she found in the Hal Henard students. “If you’ve had a bad day and then get to spend time with the kids, you will be smiling,” she said.
As part of the program, the Hal Henard students spent five Tuesday afternoons on the campus learning about the College, its students and what a college education can help them achieve in their lives.
“Each day we provided some time for our “big buddies” and “little buddies” to bond, to just interact with one another,” said Greene. “But, in addition, we had a structured program that focused on one aspect of the college each week.”
Programs included visits to the campus museums for history day, learning about careers through the campus television and radio stations and meeting with some of the College’s international students to learn about the variety of cultures and diversity you find on a college campus. Each day also concluded with a reading session in the Thomas J. Garland Library where the students were gifted with a book to take home each week from their college mentors.
According to Greene, the program wrapped up with a dinner on April 28 and each Hal Henard student who could attend was recognized for completing the program.
“Tusculum College’s Mentors for Kids program has been a great success,” said Greene. “We are already beginning to consider plans for next year and hope the program will be able to grow from what we’ve started this year.”
The Tusculum College Student Alumni Association is coordinated by the Department of Alumni and Parent Relations in the Office of Intuitional Advancement. Students are selected to participate in the program based on their academic work, involvement in campus activities and desire to give back to the College and the community. Members of the Tusculum College Student Alumni Association for 2008-09 are: Babb of Greeneville; Rachel Barnard of Loudon, Tenn.; Megan Hart of Loudon, Tenn.; Micah Haney of Union Grove, Ala.; Nikki Taylor of Ewing, Va.; Brooke Haymaker of Kettering, Ohio, and Glenn Vicary of Oak Ridge, Tenn. In addition, several other students from the College participated as volunteers in the program including Dembna of Wielkopolska, Poland; Erin Moore of Parrottsville, Tenn., and Boazin Katina of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The purpose of the Student Alumni Association is to build a body of servant leaders who upon graduation will advance the interests and connectivity of alumni and Tusculum College; establish, foster and promote the development of beneficial relationships among and between the college’s students, alumni, staff, faculty, and the college community; and furthering the quality of Tusculum College as an institution of higher education.