In an age where more and more children live in single-parent homes, or even homes with neither parent, one local organization is working with Corbin Independent Schools to bring a mentor into the child’s life.
At a recent special called meeting of the Corbin Board of Education Jennifer Coomey, Executive Director of AMP for Kids, discussed the program and the need for additional adult mentors who can set aside an hour or more each week to make an impact in a needy student’s life.
“We are talking about building relationships,” Coomey said noting the goal is to reach the child on his or her level and help instill life skills.
“It is more of a friendship based program,” Coomey said explaining that the most important thing is to be there each week for the child and show them they have an adult that is on their side and who will support them along the way.”
Coomey said it is not about just throwing an adult and child together, but matching two individuals who have similar interests.
In addition, mentors have a multitude of support services to call upon to help them negotiate any issues that may arise, including mental health professionals, and spiritual leaders.
“Asking someone to get involved and really connect with a child takes God calling them to do that,” Coomey said. “It is not really a cookie cutter thing.”
Anyone interested in mentoring is invited to attend a mentor orientation event from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 at Parkway Ministries on Cumberland Gap Pkwy in Corbin.
“That does not commit you to be a mentor,” Coomey said of attending the orientation.
As part of the process, prospective mentors will be required to fill out an application, which may be found online at www.ampforkids.org
Anyone who elects to move forward with the application process will be required to provide four references and undergo a background check.
Once that is completed, a committee holds a interview to get to know the person and ensure the individual is right for the program. “We want to ensure they can be empathetic, and they can relate to both kids and adults as part of being a mentor is interacting with the child’s family,” Coomey explained.
If the committee approves an applicant, the next step is to match that adult with a child, based on interests and also the child’s needs.
“We are not going to throw an unseasoned person into a teenager’s life,” Coomey said explaining that there are numerous second and third grade students in need of a mentor.
In addition, officials will explain the process for communicating with the child and parents/guardians regarding scheduling get-togethers and rescheduling in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
Like any other relationship, some mentor/child partnerships don’t gel, and the mentor will learn what to do if either the child, or the mentor is not comfortable.
“This is a friendship pact, and we want to ensure the person is going to stick it out for the first year because these kids are so hungry for attention,” Coomey said. Ninety percent of mentoring is being there.”
Coomey said mentors begin by meeting the child at his/her school to ensure the child is in a comfortable surrounding near adults they know.
As the relationship grows, the mentor and child may elect to meet outside of school, though only with the permission of the child’s parent/guardian.
“Some of the mentors decide to keep the meetings at school and that is fine,” Coomey said.
Coomey said this is the second year for the program in Corbin schools. Eight mentors took part in the program last year and 15 are currently waiting to be matched with mentors.
Corbin Primary School Principal Travis Wilder said the results of the program for his students have been tremendous.
“We have seen a 180 degree change in their behavior in school,” Wilder said.
Coomey said while it is only in Corbin and Clay County schools, locally, there have been discussions in Whitley County, working with juvenile justice officials in the hopes of involving first-time offenders to reduce the possibility that they will be involved in further criminal activity.
“We have a couple of other partnerships in the works,” Coomey said noting that includes Operation UNITE and the family resource centers at the schools.
More information is available on the website, or on social media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.