Petal School District seeks mentoring program volunteers

By HASKEL BURNS,

The Petal School District is looking for volunteers for Panther Partners, a new mentoring program for students at Petal Primary School, Petal Elementary School and Petal Upper Elementary School.

The program, which offers site-based mentoring at the schools, is designed to provide children facing adversity with professionally-supported, one-on-one relationships to change their lives for the better.

“Panther Partners was developed by our Petal School District staff,” said Dede Smith, director of the Coleman Center for Families and Children, which is part of the district. “Since we actually developed the program, we were able to tailor it to the needs of our students.

“We are reaching out to our community asking for volunteers to commit to spending  time with a kindergarten through sixth-grade student a couple of times each month.”

Under the program, volunteers offer children and youth individualized time and attention on a consistent basis, with the venue being the child’s school rather than out in the community. Volunteers and children meet regularly during the school year, typically each week.

During the summer, they may exchange letters, email messages or phone calls, or attend a school District Sponsored event.

Applications can be picked up at any of the three schools, and are available online at www.petalschools.com/ Page/12514. Mentor applications are due November 22.

Each of the three schools will also have a required orientation meeting as follows:

• Petal Primary School: 9-10 a.m. January 9

• Petal Elementary School: 7:45-8:30 a.m. January 10

• Petal Upper Elementary School: 9-10 a.m. January 10

“As we kick off Panther Partners, we have already identified 200 students who will be matched with a mentor,” Smith said. “Our community always supports the school district, and we feel confident that we will be successful in getting a commitment from enough mentors to match with these 200 students.

“Our district theme this year is ‘Better Together,’ and we believe strongly that the newly-developed Panther Partners will be successful with the support from our community members.”