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Mentoring program offers chance to make a difference
News outlets like ours are proud to report on the achievements of our youth on the school and sports pages, but too many young people, unfortunately, appear in the crime and court reports.
We have a choice to make.
Will we just wring our hands and lament the direction the next generation is headed?
Or will we do something about it?
If you're still reading these words, you're probably a good candidate to take the latter course.
One way you can help is to volunteer to be a TeamMates mentor.
Some thirty students, grades four through 12, in McCook Public Schools and St. Patrick School, are waiting for mentors, according to local TeamMates officials.
In 1991, Coach Tom Osborne felt athletes in his Cornhusker football team could have a positive impact on middle school students in the Lincoln Public Schools.
Of the 22 original mentees, 21 went on to graduate from high school, while one left school early to pursue a successful Motocross career. Eighteen of the original mentees also obtained some form of post-secondary education.
TeamMates was formalized in 1998 with 12 chapters, 441 mentor/mentee matches around Nebraska, and has grown to serve more than 7,500 youth through partnerships with local school districts throughout Nebraska and Iowa, recently opening chapters in Kansas and Wyoming.
Darcy Hanson shepherded the local TeamMates program to growing success over recent years, receiving statewide recognition last year for averaging more than 24 individual mentoring sessions per student.
When she and her family moved, Hanson handed leadership duties over to Janae Solomon, who taught English at McCook Junior High before teaching at McCook's LIFT alternative school and becoming a part-time certified counselor for the school system.
Last year, 81 percent of the 67 students being mentored showed academic improvement, 87 percent had fewer disciplinary referrals and 67 percent had fewer unexcused absences.