OLD LYME — More than forty children between the middle and elementary schools in Old Lyme meet with a mentor each week, a program that has helped encourage better attendance, higher grades, engagement and enthusiasm at school for these students.
“We identify kids who need an additional caring adult in their life,” said Mary Seidner, the director of Lymes’ Youth Services Bureau who helps to run the program. “In the ideal situation all students would have a mentor.”
Region 18 is by no means the first district to implement a mentorship program. The Governor’s Prevention Partnership, a non-profit based in Hartford, works with over 150 programs serving 12,000 youth across the state. The partnership provides training and help for towns and organizations trying to start a mentoring program.
The program was introduced into the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools based on the recommendation of Region 18 Superintendent Ian Neviaser, who was previously a teacher and assistant principal in the Guilford Public Schools.
“I had seen how much good it did for students in Guilford and wanted to bring that here,” Neviaser said.
The mentor is not meant to be a tutor, advisor, teacher or counselor to the student. The role is truly about friendship.
“It is really about friendship, about building connections,” Molnar said. Through data collected by the Governor’s Prevention Partnership it has been shown that children who have at least one trusted adult in their life are healthier and more successful. The idea of the program is to provide at least one more of those connections to students who may or may not have that elsewhere.
The mentorship program is planning to expand in the coming years but has had some trouble recruiting male adult volunteers.
“We ask anyone who is interested in making a difference in a child’s life to contact us,” Molnar said.