by Lucie Roy
The Rotary Club of Morinville has partnered with Sturgeon School Division, Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, and the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers & Big Sisters (BGCBBBS) of Edmonton. The groups will undertake a student mentorship program for students in Morinville and the surrounding community. A signing ceremony was held at the club’s Sept. 2 meeting.
“Kids with mentors in their lives are more likely to finish school, less likely to turn to alcohol and drugs, and are more likely to have a better relationship with their parents as well as their peers,” said BGCBBBS Executive Director Liz O’Neill. She went on to say Morinville will be the center of the efforts. “I think you have the opportunity and capacity to do maybe something much more national, and so I am proud I am going to get to do this work together in this community.”
Rotary Club member Gordon Boddez, Director for Vocational Services, said part of the vision is to extend the program to Camilla School in Riviere Qui Barre in a year or two, and also eventually to Alexander First Nation.
In her presentation, Jeannette Macmillan said she has always been a relationship teacher. As such, the project is extremely important because there are always a group of students in class who are at risk and the majority of the time those students are reached through relationships and extracurricular activities. Once that relationship is established, they are then prepared to sit for language, social studies, math and science.
Carol Kaup, who was thanked along with MacMillan by O’Neill for being the boots on the ground for the initiative, was pleased. “What you are putting behind this project is well worth it,” Kaup said. “We really felt in doing this. I taught Grade 3 for many years, and I think of the relationship I had with my students and all of them. Lots of times they are there in body, but no spirit left. That is what you want to build and when you build that then the learning comes and everything else comes. If they do not have a good feeling about themselves it isn’t going to happen.”
Notre Dame School Vice-Principal Liz Kleparchuk said the school is excited to begin the project. “I think the opportunity for our students at Notre Dame is going to be amazing,” She said. “I am glad we are able to have partnerships and with everyone speaking about relationships that is what it is going to come down for our students — having a relationship with an adult outside of our building.
Morinville Public School Vice-Principal Shawna Walter is also looking forward to the program.
The program is set to start in local schools in January as an in-school mentoring program, which provides boys and girls with a role model and a friend to talk to and share the experiences of growing up within the school grounds.