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Rockwall Noon Rotary, Rockwall ISD kicks off student mentoring program

Rotary Club (2)nancy beaty

By Nancy Beaty. When you want an example of good news you don’t have to look any farther than right here in Rockwall County.

Recently, more than 100 residents joined with The Rockwall Noon Rotary Club and the Rockwall Independent School District in phase one of their partnering efforts on a Student Mentoring Program.

This positive program pairs student with mentors who give one hour per week to “foster self esteem, confidence and a motivation to learn and improve personal and social skills,” said Dr. Gene Burton, Superintendent of RISD.

The seed of this powerful program began in 1998 when Rotary Club President Cindy Tayem saw the importance of a literacy mentoring program. Tayem asked Rotary member, Debbie Devine Tudor to head up the efforts and Rockwall Rotary Literary Mentoring took off with ever increasing participation.

In 2001 the club was honored with the District 5810 Service to a New Generation Service Award for their reading and relationship program.

When Barbara Allan was asked to be the 2009-2010 Rotary Mentoring coordinator, she exhibited a tenacity and enthusiasm that was contagious. In a very few short weeks she had more than 100 mentors recruited from the community and ready to serve. Rotary’s Motto – “Service Above Self.” 

To celebrate the beginning of this year’s mentoring efforts, Barbara asked the membership to donate jars of peanut butter and jelly to help stock the food pantry at Helping Hands, a benevolent organization that serves individuals and families in need in Rockwall County.

Rotary Club President Russ Childers was excited but not shocked when the memberships donated more than 600 lbs. of PB&J and an additional $750 in donations to help with the food pantry’s needs.

RISD’s Motto - Others Before Self from “Rachel’s Challenge – The 2009-2010 school year marks the first year of RISD’s partnership with the Rotary Club and through their collaborative efforts the mentoring program will soon be bigger than ever.                          

At a recent mentoring kick-off gathering the room was filled with people who are putting feet to their commitments. I spoke to several people who are giving the gift of their time.

Dr. Rick Reeder, RISD Mentoring Coordinator, was not surprised. “It speaks volumes about Rockwall, Texas. This is an exemplary community with an incredible support system.”

I asked several people what motivated them to become involved.

Jon Bailey, a Rotarian, mentor and mentor co-coordinator for Springer Elementary said, “If I can make a difference in the life of a child that’s what I want to do.”  

Patricia Keegan said, “You want to make an impact.” Even before she met her student, Patricia began making an impact by telling her husband Michael about the program and now he is a mentor, as well.

There is still time to be a part of the good news as the mentoring program is expanding to include all elementary schools, middle schools and high schools within the district.

Dr. Burton told those in attendance, “Our campuses have currently identified over 200 students who would benefit from being in a mentoring relationship.”

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact Barbara Allan – Rotary Mentoring Chair at 972-771-8960 or Dr. Rick Reeder, RISD Mentoring Coordinator, at 469-698-7058.

You may also visit www.rockwallisd.com and click on the Mentoring button for more info.

In left photo above:  Barbara Allan, 2009 Rotary Mentoring Chair left), Cindy Tayem, 1998 Rotary President (center), Debbie Devine Tudor, 1998 Rotary Chair

In right photo, Nancy Beaty

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