New graduation initiative pairs students with mentors

BROWN COUNTY, Wis (WBAY) -- Three Brown County school districts have started using mentors to ensure students graduate high school.

January is national mentoring month which makes the launch of the pilot program fitting.

Green Bay Area Public School District, Howard-Suamico and Denmark school districts are the test districts.

“Right now we have about 6,000 students identified as at risk of dropping out of school, 6-12 grade,” said Adam Hardy, executive director of Achieve Brown County.

That's why Brown County leaders are looking to set students up with a mentor.

“We're working with these kids to find out what's really happening in their life, how can we help you; and once we find that out our goal is, in this first test, to bring in some mentoring programs to help make sure they have someone in their corner, someone who can help them,” said Hardy.

The test will use the experience of about 70 student-mentor matches between January and June to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach.

Katie Hess, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin says mentors have proven to be successful.

“We see an improvement in grades, we see an increase in parental trust, social acceptance is really important too,” said Hess.

The program is looking for 100 adult mentors to sign up by March 1. A hefty goal considering Big Brothers Big Sisters is already short on help.

Click here to learn more about becoming a mentor.

“We typically have between 80 and 110 children on our wait list waiting for a mentor - and that's just the kids between the ages of 7-13,” said Hess. “What we're looking for is, for our community to come in, volunteer for either an hour a week or a couple hours in the afternoon just to help these children succeed.”

The four schools that are participating in the pilot program are: Bay Port High School, Denmark Middle School, Edison Middle School, and Preble High School.

The Achieve Mentor Initiative is expected to expand to other schools in the fall of 2019.

The initiative is also working with Family Services and its 'Student Assistance Program' and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Green Bay's 'BE GREAT: Graduate' program.