The Norwalk Mentor Program, a program of the Human Services Council in partnership with the Norwalk Public Schools, started another school year by hosting a welcome breakfast Oct. 3 at each of Norwalk's 19 public schools. More than 400 mentors and students attended with the support of FactSet Research Systems Inc.
The first school-based mentor program in the country, the NMP has a long standing in the community. It serves 270 Norwalk public school students. The program matches adult who provide positive role models in one-on-one relationships with students in all 19 of Norwalk's public schools.
NMP evaluations have demonstrated that students involved in the program significantly improved their academic performance, self-confidence and ability to trust.
About 96 percent of students reported their mentor makes them feel happy.
"I have someone to go to when I am confused about my future. He gives me a better direction," said one 12th-grade student.
During the breakfasts, the emotional connection many of the mentors and students have developed as they interact becomes clear.
"The program is terrific. It has benefited many of my students academically, socially and emotionally. The mentors have always been positive role models who have encouraged and enriched their (students') school experience," a teacher said.
The breakfasts reunited mentors and mentees after they spent a summer apart.
Mentors and students "are very anxious to see each other, and the breakfast sets off the start of the year on a good note," said Rafaela Soriano, program director.
"We're very appreciative of FactSet's support."
FactSet Research Systems Inc.'s $2,500 sponsorship funded the breakfasts in all schools.
Mentors are asked to make a commitment of at least one school year. If a mentor and student remain together through the senior year of high school and graduation, the student becomes eligible for post-secondary scholarship awards through the Norwalk Mentor Scholarship Fund. The Norwalk Mentor Program conducts orientation sessions every month to fill the demand of the 250 students who are on a waiting list for a mentor. For information on how to become a mentor, contact the Norwalk Mentor Program at 203-849-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.