Written by Beth Krutz, Principal
Over the past several years, students at Central Elementary have benefited from the College Mentors for Kids program. This is through a partnership with the Valparaiso University College Mentors for Kids Chapter.
The mission of this program is to motivate kids and communities to reach their full potential. This mission is brought to life when the students at Valparaiso University "buddy up" with the students at Central Elementary School. Each weekly activity helps students discover personal interests, skills and potential careers by focusing on three areas of development: higher education and career, community service, and culture and diversity. Central students spend up to 40 hours each year with their "big buddies." Although children are the primary focus, the program has a powerful effect that influences families, mentors, Valparaiso University and the community.
The program helps students become excited about the college experience. They have toured the campus often and visit many different buildings. They have been able to perform science experiments in the chemistry lab and learn art techniques in the Fine Arts Building.
One Central student said visiting her buddy's dorm room to see what it is like to live at college was her favorite activity. Another Central student's favorite activity was going to the church to see all the stained-glass windows. This student has also learned that going to college may be very challenging, but can also be fun. This young lady has decided to become a marine biologist.
Last year students learned to play Frisbee with the Intramural Frisbee team and toured the Athletic Recreation Center. In a recent activity, they learned about how different cultures at the university celebrate the holiday season by playing various cultural games. All of the activities have created a lot of enthusiasm about college for the young students.
Currently, College Mentors for Kids has 23 chapters at colleges and universities across Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. With roughly 1,600 volunteer college students, the chapters are able to mentor more than 1,400 kids.
The program's success is possible through the help of many caring and talented individuals. Beth Aguayo, the home shool adviser at Central Elementary; Pam Skoglund, the director of transportation for Valparaiso Community Schools; Cindy Licciardone, director of food service for the Valparaiso school district; Olivia Catey, chapter president and VU student, and Sherry DeMik, site manager and associate professor at VU. All work together to meet the needs for this program.
Because of the program's success, Parkview Elementary School has been added to this partnership beginning the 2011-12 school year