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TeamMates mentoring program makes a difference
A program started by Tom and Nancy Osborne in 1991 has leveraged University of Nebraska football fame into a program that has been making a real difference in the lives of students for nearly 20 years.
Back in 1991, Osborne decided his athletes could make a difference with students, and took 22 of his football players to meet with middle school students in the Lincoln Public Schools.
In 1997, the program was expanded to include 160 volunteer mentors from the Lincoln community who met with a student for an hour a week in the school setting on the belief that the students could benefit from another caring adult in their life.
TeamMates Mentoring program was formalized as a statewide program in 1998, with 12 chapters and 441 mentor/mentee matches. Today, the organization includes more than 85 chapters in 115 communities, serving more than 4,000 students in grades 4-12.
TeamMates partners with local school districts from the largest urban schools to some of the smallest and most isolated rural schools.
It matches a student with an adult volunteer mentor to provide one hour of individual mentoring each week during the school year, doing everything from homework assignments to sharing common interests to simply engaging in conversation.
But does it really work?
Yes, if statistics for the McCook TeamMates program are any indication.
Chapter president Dennis Berry said the latest annual numbers indicate that students involved with TeamMates had 100 percent fewer absences than they did before they became part of the program.
Eighty-three percent of the students had fewer disciplinary referrals.
"Most importantly," Berry said, "67 percent of the students improved academic performance." All of the metrics for McCook were above the state averages, Berry said.
But some of the most important results can't be measured by statistics. Ask a mentor, and he or she will probably tell you the rewards surpass the effort it takes to meet with a student for an hour or two each week.
Do you have a little extra time to spend with a student who could use a positive adult role model? Call Berry at (308) 345-6940 or director Darcey Hansen at (308) 340-2580, or log on to www.teammates.org for more information.