Mt. Abe district seeks funds for mentoring

ABOUT 40 VOLUNTEERS from the five Mount Abraham Unified School District towns gathered on Dec. 5 in Starksboro to write letters to district residents seeking support for the MAUSD mentoring program. The program currently matches 94 district students with long-term, trained adult mentors from local communities.

STARKSBORO — Around 40 volunteers from Mount Abraham Unified School District towns gathered on Dec. 5 at Starksboro’s Common Ground Center to write 1,000 fundraising letters to residents of Bristol, New Haven, Starksboro and Monkton on behalf of the school district’s mentoring program.
Six Lincoln residents attended to help process the donation letters, but that town’s volunteers opted to approach the Friends of Lincoln organization for a gift rather than send letters, according to organizers.
Other funds come from foundations and town budgets. Starksboro has regularly donated $2,000, and Monkton donated $1,000 last year, an amount mentoring backers hope to increase to $1,500. The group is also seeking $1,000 apiece from Bristol and Lincoln, and is planning to seek a donation from New Haven.
According to organizers, this past year’s letter-writing campaign raised $3,500 in Starksboro and $1,200 in Monkton.
Currently, 94 MAUSD elementary and high school students have long-term adult volunteer community members that the program matches with them at as young an age as possible.
According to Amy Johnston, MAUSD Director of Mentoring and School Counselor, the sooner those long-term ties develop, the better.
“It is easier to start a mentoring relationship at a young age, and research suggests that those mentoring relationships that begin with a child at a young age are most impactful,” she said.
Johnston said the benefits to mentees are clear.
“We see significant social, emotional and academic gains in our children that are mentored. It’s a beautiful thing to witness,” she said.
Johnston said funding is needed to help defray the cost of a part-time coordinator; mentor recruitment, training, and screening; and special events and supplies.
Currently, the program enjoys five matches in New Haven, eight in Bristol, 10 in Monkton, 10 in Lincoln and 28 in Starksboro.
Johnston said she would love to see those numbers rise.
“I think it would be safe to say that we are always on the look out for additional safe, reliable and caring mentors in all of our programs,” she said. “Our model is to start at the elementary level and then transition these matches along to Mount Abe mentors, because the length and the strength of the relationship are the greatest indicators of positive effects on the mentee.”

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