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Mentoring fosters friendship at Westview Elementary

November 2, 2018—A Westview Elementary mentoring program recently experienced a new birth, giving students and community members an opportunity to form positive and supportive relationships.

Tiger Friends, a mentoring program that matches students with adult mentors from within the community, helps to provide another positive in the lives of their students.

“Children today need a caring adult role model. When children and teens have the influence of a caring adult, they are more likely to avoid risky behaviors and to focus on academics.,” Principal Anneleise Gould said in a prepared statement. “Today’s youth face a variety of challenges, and having the opportunity to be with a Tiger Friend can only help them navigate these challenges and reach their potential because (of) this influence.”

Jessica Broadbent, vice principal, said the program tries to pair their students with individuals from the community who can provide the human connection that student lacks in their lives.

Kids need to form connections with people in their families, in their neighborhoods and in their communities, she said. Sometimes, society does not provide them with the opportunities to form those relationships.

Broadbent said some of their students do not have a strong male or female role model at home. Others, she said, just need some more positive attention at school. Needing a Tiger friend does not indicate relationship lack at home, she said. With the hustle and bustle of today’s modern life, sometimes a child just needs another source of support.

Tiger Friends meet once per week, which Broadbent said helps provide the students with the security of structure of knowing that person is coming.

During their meetings, the friends may color, read or eat lunch together.

Barry Grayson, assistant custodial supervisor, began meeting with his friend a few weeks ago. He said the little guy reminds Grayson of himself at the same age.

Grayson and his friend color and do puzzle activities. Sometimes, they eat lunch together, other times, they sit and talk about the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I know it makes his day,” he said.

Megan Deere works as the Tiger Friend Coordinator. She said she can tell a difference in Grayson’s young friend’s life already.

The young friend said he enjoys the time he spends with Grayson. He said he likes it when they color together and talk about the Chiefs. Grayson does tend to color outside the lines, the young friend said, something he plans to help Grayson with. That day, the young friend said excited him because Grayson planned to eat lunch with him. Grayson, the young friend said, should have the white chicken nachos.

The brochure Deere provided The Standard said the program provides a great way for community members to get involved in the lives of area youth. Staff structures activities to fit the situation, age and schedule of all participants.

Broadbent said the program acts as another level of support for the students. They know their friend will come to see them, she said. They know their friend cares about them. This knowledge, she said, will help the student do better in school. Westview faculty and staff already help to establish a foundation for good behavior and academic success, she said. They hope the program can help provide that positive support needed to push that foundation forward.

In the future, Broadbent said they hope to work with other schools within the district to allow the mentoring to continue. Hopefully, she said, they can keep the friends together through middle school and beyond. That way the student retains some stability within the instability of moving to a new school.

Staff also hopes to work within the community to provide opportunities for their students to help for others, Broadbent said. This, she said, will encourage all in the Excelsior Springs community to work together.

“It’s a team effort,” she said.

To apply to be a Tiger Friend or for more information, email Megan Deere at mdeere@ga.essd40.com.

By Kimberely Blackburn • kimberely@leaderpress.com

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