A state mentorship program will begin this school year at East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School. As part of the initiative, adult volunteers will be paired with 10th graders at the high school.
“It’s for those [students] who need a guiding spirit and don’t have it,” said Diane Urso, the regional coordinator for the New York State Mentoring Program. “It’s social and emotional. It’s not tutoring.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo adopted the program in 2015 to help students build positive relationships, develop self-esteem and make positive choices. The program is free for schools, mentors and mentees, according to Urso.
Superintendent Lisa Ruiz said that the district has worked closely with Urso to implement the program and choose mentors. “We are excited to have been selected to participate in the New York State Mentoring Program and look forward to launching this initiative shortly,” she said in a statement. “This program is one component of our goal to serve all students' academic, personal, social and emotional needs as they reach for success in school and beyond.”
For the program, Urso said she would like to have 10 volunteers. Volunteers would complete a free, two-hour training session and be fingerprinted for no-charge background checks. After the training, the mentors would meet with assigned students once a week from October through May after school for an hour.
The program has already been successful in Glen Cove, according to Urso. There, the senior center provides volunteers who come back to mentor students at three elementary schools each year.
“It really builds communities,” Urso said.
To volunteer as a mentor, call Diane Urso at (518) 469-0452.