Garyville/Mt. Airy employees encouraging ‘adopted’ kids

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 4, 1998

Stacey Plaisance / L’Observateur / November 4, 1998

GARYVILLE – A get acquainted social was recently held for the more than 75 students who have been adopted by Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet Schoolfaculty and staff members as part of a new mentor program.

Designed to improve discipline and academic achievement, the mentor program was initiated last school year and is now “full-blown,” said Audrey Sylvain, Title 1 curriculum coordinator.

The faculty and staff adopted students in September to monitor and encourage student progress both socially and academically throughout the year. The mentors are encouraged to keep in touch with parents, and theget acquainted social was a means by which parents and mentors were introduced.

“The program was successful last year, but this year it has gotten even bigger,” Sylvain said. “Even the principal has adopted a student, and someteachers and staff have adopted more than one student.”Teachers adopted students they don’t regularly teach in order to avoid displays of partiality that could occur in a classroom environment, Sylvain said.

“These are students the teachers don’t have in their class, and they selected their mentoree from a list we had put together of students who had potential but had some behavioral or disciplinary problems,” Sylvain said. “We’re not here to take the place of the parent. We’re here to helpand assist students in their development.”Principal Michael Coburn said he has adopted two students and makes an effort to meet with them on a daily basis.

“That’s what we want these adopted parents to do,” he said. “We wantthem to talk to the students every day and let them know that it’s a joy to come to school.”Coburn said attitude is an area of emphasis at the school, and the mentors serve as role models.

“We want to make sure these kids have everything they need,” he said.

“It’s not only magnet kids, it’s also our residential kids. This isn’t acharity program. It’s a caring program.”Rochelle St. Marie, the Safe and Drug Free Schools Coordinator forLaFouche Parish School System, was guest speaker at the get acquainted social. St. Marie is the external consultant for Title 1 and visits theschool when there is a need to improve behavior and discipline, Sylvain said. St. Marie is a motivational speaker who works in parent training,team building, conflict resolution and motivational training for teachers.

“She had us form family groups, and we had certain things to do as a family,” Sylvain said. “The family consisted of the students, their parentsand the staff member that adopted the student.”The get acquainted program began with a welcome by Coburn followed by a statement of the program’s purpose by Sylvain. Staff members introducedthemselves and their adoptees, and door prizes and refreshments were provided.

Coburn said the mentor program has already begun to branch out into the community. Two area churches have adopted the school and sendcongregation members to the school to serve as tutors and counselors for the students. They are the LaPlace Church of Christ and the St. JohnBaptist Church.

Workers from Nalco Chemical in Garyville have served as tutors at the school for more than two years now, and Coburn said their influence has been positive.

“The more the better,” Coburn said. “I wish we could get more parents inhere. We’d love to see them here helping our kids out.”

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