Posted: Friday, December 4, 2015
Community partnerships mean students at Bethel Elementary have mentors, tutors, and Big Brothers and Sisters who take time out of their day to influence their lives.
School Counselor Dana Glenn has spent her 18-year career as a teacher and counselor building partnerships with community organizations for the benefit of students. For the past five years, members of Brookwood Church, located across the street from Bethel, have participated in a mentoring program called Kid’s Hope.
“We have 23 members of the church who give one day a week for one hour with one child,” explained Glenn. “Some children need one-on-one tutoring or test review, and some need to catch up on basic skills. Others have social needs like building relationships and making friends. Each mentoring partnership looks different based on what the child needs,” she said.
Mauldin High School students, many of whom attended Bethel, return as part of a service learning program or to serve as a Big Brother or Big Sister. “The younger students really look up to the high school students,” said Mrs. Glenn.
Glenn said over the years she’s seen a rise in the number of students receiving free and reduced lunch. Advent Methodist Church stepped up to partner with the school to address the need, implementing the Backpack Blessing Program that provides students with food over the weekends. “Members of the church bring the packets every week and I make sure the students who need it are getting it,” said Glenn.
The impact on the school has been immense, she said. “When you see community members coming into the school and get involved, you see the students light up. It’s just a beautiful thing to see a community and a school and a church and a high school all working together for the needs of our students.”
She added that she has seen an improvement in how students see themselves. “Sometimes the student has matured so much after having a mentor for two or three years, and you see the confidence in how much they lean on their mentor for support,” she said. “It’s amazing. They are better problem solvers and they have better coping skills because they feel supported and have someone to listen to them.”