Mentors make difference in lives of their students

Posted: Monday, May 05, 2003

The Aspirations Advocate Program is based on the premise that the development of student aspirations makes a real and tangible difference in the lives of children. Aspirations are defined as an "individual's ability to identify and set goals for the future, while being inspired in the present to work toward those goals."

Aspirations Advocates (mentors) are friends to their students. They take the time to listen and to understand what a student has to say. They work to help their students establish a sense of belonging, sense of accomplishment, leadership and responsibility, and the confidence to take action, among other things. Many of our mentors provide the inspiration for the student's aspirations.

Within the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, the Aspirations Advocate Program is making a positive difference in the lives of students and mentors at Skyview High School and Soldotna Middle School.

Under way since January 2003, Site Coordinator Karen Ruebsamen has five mentors working with Soldotna Middle School students. Those mentors are Justin Goodman, Wendy Focose, Faith Redden, Ruben Reyes and Annie Berge. In addition, parent volunteer Kim Van Antwerp has assisted with mentor training and SMS program development. It should also be noted that three of these mentors have been given release time by their employers (Kenai Chrysler Center, Agrium and Great Bear Ford) for this program.

Skyview High School is completing its second full-year of the Aspirations Advocate Program with 10 mentors. First-year mentors are Penny Malmquist, Kathleen Evenson and Lea Shields. Our returning mentors are Marlys Verba, Thelma Antila, Joan Miller, Scott Earsley, Scott Stubbert, Doug Blossom and Rick Abbott. Returning mentors are not only an asset to their students, but a valuable resource to our first-year volunteers, as well. In addition to her work as mentor, Joan Miller has also taken on the volunteer position as site coordinator.

Mentors make a positive difference in the lives of our young people. Studies have shown that students with mentors are more likely to stay in school, attend classes, achieve and aspire to better grades, and go on to college. The mentor volunteers who make the Aspirations Advocate Program successful are a dedicated group of individuals who have come together because they care about kids. They are tireless in their efforts to support and encourage their students and we are grateful for their gifts of time, talent, consistency and compassion.

Thank you, mentors!

Sheilah-Margaret Pothast

KPBSD facilitator

Aspirations Advocate Program

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