Newton county school system: Grant to help fund mentor program

COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System recently was awarded a grant that will aid its mentoring program.

This month, the Governor's Office for Children and Families announced that NCSS will receive a $238,447 grant as part of the 2009 Caring Communities System of Care program. NCSS was one of 10 recipients in the state to receive the grant.

With the grant, the school system plans to implement support systems and mentoring programs for some of its students and families with the help of several community agencies.

"The planners of the programs funded by this grant worked together under the philosophy that 'It takes a whole village to raise a child,'" said Dr. Kathy Garber, grants coordinator for NCSS. "In these trying economic times, it takes everyone working together to support and encourage our students to do their best in school, at home and in the community."

With the grant, the school system plans to focus on the program, Positive Behavior Support, at Sharp Learning Center to help improve school performance.

"In this economic downturn, our school district has been increasingly tasked to do more with less while trying to meet the mission of providing educational excellence to all students," said Dr. Steve Whatley, Newton County School Superintendent, in a press release. "The grant planning team worked hard to devise a plan and applied for a grant to address a very important need in our district. We firmly believe that no child should be left behind, and the funds from this grant will help ensure that students enrolled at Sharp Learning Center that might need additional assistance and support will receive that support."

The program is expected to teach and reinforce appropriate behavior and develop interventions for inappropriate behavior, according to the press release.

Students are expected to be involved, providing input and being awarded opportunities and positive feedback for appropriate behavior.

"The Newton County Juvenile Court believes that implementation of this program will help each child at Sharp maximize his or her potential and develop the skills needed to succeed," said Diana Summers, research analyst at Newton County Juvenile Court, in the press release.

Several community agencies also plan to partner with NCSS for the program.

"Research has shown that a family-driven community of care and increased collaboration among child service organizations results in improved outcomes for children," said Laura Bertram, executive director of the Newton County Community Partnership, the county's official planning and advocacy body for children and families. "Our partners agreed that the Sharp population could be best served through multiple agencies in collaboration with the school system."

Newton Mentoring Inc. also plans to pair at least 25 students with adults to mentor them, providing support and boosting self-esteem.

"Mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship that matches young people with caring adults who offer guidance, support and encouragement," said Margaret Washington, executive director of Newton Mentoring Inc. "I would encourage those 18 or older to consider this rewarding volunteer opportunity."

More information about the mentoring program is available www.newtonmentoring.com.