City workers, listen up!
You may get an hour off a week from the job to mentor public school kids.
Mayor Toni Harp said her mentor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, implemented that idea when he served as mayor of Stamford. She said she will now consider bringing that idea to New Haven.
The occasion was a press conference Friday in the library of the Truman School in the Hill. City, state, and non-profits execs came out in force to kick off the tenth annual Connecticut Mentoring Month organized by the Governor’s Prevention Partnership.
“The key message is recruitment,” said Governor’s Prevention Partnership President and CEO Jill Spineti.
Statewide 21,00 people already serve as mentors, said said; eight or nine times that number are needed. She said she would be pleased if this year if an additional 10,000 mentors, from high school kids to corporate employees, take up the challenge to spend an hour or two a week each with kids helping with academics and providing guidance, fun, and exposure to another way of being in the world beyond a child’s small circle.
State Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor said that kids are only half as likely to skip school or do bad things in life if they meet regularly with a mentor.
In New Haven the need is great, said Spineti, which is why Mayor Harp said she was intrigued with the Malloy’s city-employee idea after mentioned it in his remarks.
“I’m going to see what it will take to get it done,” Harp said.
Spineti guesstimated based on poverty figures that of New Haven’s approximately 22,000 students, 25 percent, or about 4,000, could benefit from mentors. According to a 2012 Governor’s Prevention Partnership survey, only 3 percent of schoolchildren were being provided with mentors, a total of 689 kids with 553 mentors.
Sue Weisselberg, the city’s director of “wraparound services” (social service programs helping kids), estimated that 75 percent of New Haven’s 50 or so schools have some kind of mentoring. “We know we can do better,” she said.