Mentoring program kicks off first full year

The Al’s Pals mentoring program is only in its second semester, but it is already expanding to another location and hoping to add over 100 new mentors.

Al’s Pals, which was started in January by Star Bloom, planted its roots by placing 75 mentors at McKenzie Court to pair up with students after school. Al’s Pals has now expanded to Oakdale Elementary and expects to accept a lot more mentors.

“We hope to have 200 mentors involved this fall, between the two sites,” Bloom said.

As of Tuesday, Bloom said she had received about 110 applications.

The program has grown because of publicity online and around campus. Professors have even taken an interest.

“There are a couple of classes where professors want their students to do this,” Bloom said.

But for Bloom, the importance lies in the quality, not merely the quantity, of the mentors.

“We want students who are committed to wanting to help children and to improve this community,” Bloom said.

This year, there is a 2.5 GPA minimum for applicants.

“We like to have mentors who have thought about their future, because we want to help the children think about their own future,” Bloom said.

The children involved in the program receive one-on-one attention with their mentors. Mentors will help the students with their homework, play games, do crafts and read with them, and serve as good role models.

Bloom has implemented an enrichment session to the program, which will allow the children to be engaged with dance and music.

The children range from kindergarteners to fifth graders. The program is special because it pairs a mentor with a mentee, and from then on the two can develop a relationship.

Michelle Kistler, a sophomore majoring in history, said she is intrigued by the program and is considering applying.

“I don’t remember having something like that when I was that age,” Kistler said. “With grades itself, tutoring makes such a difference. Mentors can get them interested in learning.”

Kistler said she recognizes the importance a college student can have on the life of a child.

“You can be so confused at that age; you need someone to bring you back down to earth and kind of advise you on the best way to handle certain situations,” Kistler said. “It’s like young person to young person versus authority figure to child.”

Mentoring takes place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3-5 p.m.

Applications can be found on the Ferguson Center website and should be submitted to the Ferg immediately. Interviews will take place between now and Sept. 2.

 

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