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May 15, 2014

Mentor program presented to school board

DUNCAN — Through two presentations, the Duncan Board of Education saw several opportunities to increase interactions between students and the community.

Among those was the introduction of a mentor program aimed at elementary students in hopes of encouraging students to move in a positive direction. The mentor program would be through The Well Outreach Inc., a local non-profit organization aimed at helping children, especially those that may be at-risk.

Carol Wanzor, who is the chairwoman of the organization, discussed the mentoring program with the school board, noting mentors would volunteer at least an hour of time each week.

“We have 25 to 30 volunteers ready to go,” Wanzor said.

The Well Outreach Inc. is a faith-based organization. The mentoring program would focus on students who have potential but may need some guidance.

Wanzor said the program will start out small, but she hopes it grows to allow the mentors to do more with the students, such as taking them on field trips. For now, the students and the mentors will remain in the school.

“There are a lot of people who care about your kids,” Wanzor said.

And the mentor program wasn’t the only idea proposed at increasing student learning by teaming them with adults.

Jeff Gregston talked to the school board about a potential partnership between Duncan Public Schools and the Elk Crossing Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility, which is being constructed at Fifth and Elk. The facility will be completed in 2015.

In his presentation, Gregston discussed the possibility of housing two pre-kindergarten classes at the facility. The goal is to increase student learning and senior adults’ abilities by having the two groups interact.

“There are too many things to help out the elderly to keep from doing this,” Gregston said. “Kids will be involved no matter what.”

The idea was taken from Jenks School District, who has had a similar program for 15 years. Gregston said interactions between the children and the adults helps the children develop and learn, while the adults find benefits, too, including the decrease of some medications.

He said the seniors would enjoy reading to children, and some children without grandparents would find older adults to relate too. A liaison will be present when the children are interacting with the adults, school attorney Scott Stone said.

Superintendent Sherry Labyer said having the two additional classrooms would be a way to continue to grow the pre-kindergarten program and could spark more interest among parents and students.

“Jenks was out of room,” Labyer said. “We’re not out of room. I hope it would be very attractive to parents. We could capture more kids into our pre-k program.”

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