“I want to say thank you to [Cartersville Middle School] mentors and all of our mentors. ... We really appreciate our mentors and we’ve really been blessed this year. We’ve been working with [Communications Coordinator and Schools Foundation Director] Lisa Bell to help rope them in, and we think when we have 10 mentors, that’s an awesome year, but we would like to have more,” CMS counselor Joycelyn Richards said. “When you look at a student, you look in an [in-school suspension] room, you can tell we have so many more students who are in need and sometimes kids just want to sit and talk with [school counselors], they love to have somebody check in with them, so it’s nice to have a mentor who is coming by consistently, even if it’s just once a week or once every other week, just to say ‘how are you?’”
This year’s award winners are Shonelle Jamison — parent volunteer at Cartersville Primary School; Mike Weightman — mentor at Cartersville Elementary School; Johnathan Rogers — parent volunteer at CMS; and Andy Postell — community volunteer for the district. Each person recognized received a gift and spoke about their experience donating time to Cartersville schools.
Postell, who serves as pastor of The Well, has helped with the BackPack Buddies program, which operates by having churches fill backpacks with supplemental food items for students who may not have any meals to eat at home over the weekend.
“There are kids who are hungry and we want to try and feed them and I’ve always just been an advocate for that,” Postell said. “I grew up, I guess, in excess and didn’t know that there were people who were hungry and about eight or nine years ago I was serving a church in Morgan County and I heard of the story of a kid who was in school with my son at that time that they found at home eating lard and it just blew me away that there would be kids in my kids’ classrooms that don’t have enough food to eat.
“That’s what kind of led to the passion of being able to reach out, and there’s just so many kids in so many different life situations and this is just one way that we, the church, can help address something that is concrete and tangible and that’s why we do what we do.”
Weightman said it was important for those interested in becoming a mentor to know they can make a difference in a child’s life simply by providing supplemental support outside of the home.
“As a mentor, we don’t take the place of the parents,” Weightman said. “We just reassure those values the parents are already instilling in their child.”
Director of Curriculum and Accountability Diane Hart said the program is part of the system’s Title I Parent Involvement Plan which, according to Hart, “seeks to honor and encourage parent engagement in all our schools.”
“The overall goal of the Parent Involvement Program is to increase student achievement by engaging and empowering parents to become actively involved in their children’s education across all grade levels,” Hart said. “... Our schools welcome the opportunity to expand volunteer and mentor participation. If you wish to give a helping hand to our schools, please contact your child’s or grandchild’s school for more information.”