Elkhorn Middle School students who need some extra help could be invited to participate in the after-school program Mentors and Meals.
After students succeeded with the program that started in the spring, EMS teacher Christy Sapp said she wanted the mentoring to continue. The students meet at Capital City Christian Church on Mondays and Wednesdays.
A school bus drops off about 12 students from EMS at the church. They either have an assignment related to their class lessons waiting for them or they bring homework with them. They then either pick a mentor, or a mentor picks them, to work with for the day.
Most of the current mentors are Kentucky State University students. The mentors and students work on school assignments and, when finished, might play basketball or another activity in the church’s gym. Students also get a meal around 5 p.m.
“I just like the kids, helping the kids and being a mentor,” said KSU freshman Keiona Redding.
Redding helped sixth-grader Emilee Rucker with math on Monday. Emilee said she liked “everything” about Mentors and Meals.
Sapp said the program started in the spring, but this will be the first full school year that students will have access to the group. Mentors and Meals will take a break a few weeks before Christmas and then again before testing. Last year, only sixth grade students were eligible, but the program has expanded to include seventh graders.
Irma Johnson, a coordinator for Regional Stewardship and Community Engagement, said the college students enjoy the program as much as the middle school students do. She said members of KSU’s faculty and staff have also expressed an interest in becoming mentors and should start in the next few weeks.
For the middle school students, they see someone a few years older than them on a path to college, making that option seem more attainable, Johnson said.
“I think it's a symbiotic process. They learn from each other, but the biggest thing, I think, that the younger ones understand is that these kids are only five or six years older than they are in many cases and on a path toward college,” Johnson said. “And that’s what we are promoting is that path, that pathway, and where it leads.”
While tutoring is one of the components, the mentoring aspect encourages students to keep coming back each week, Sapp said. Right now, the program only serves EMS students, but she is open to adding other middle schools to the program.
As of now, Sapp leads cooking the Monday night meals and the church provides a dinner on Wednesday nights. Sapp said she appreciated some assistance from the Salvation Army, which gave her Kroger gift cards to buy ingredients for Mondays. The program is looking for more help in serving meals to the students, she said.
To volunteer with Mentors and Meals, contact Sapp at firstname.lastname@example.org.