At some point in our lives, we’ve all celebrated the success of a sporting team as it wins a championship game. Behind the team’s success there stands a proud team of athletic coaches, who were responsible for training the athletes and teaching them the fundamentals of team sports. Much like athletic coaches, Fort Bend ISD’s graduation coaches are just as proud of their teams’ success.
Graduation coaches are trained mentors, who are recruited through a partnership between District’s Special Programs Department and Sugar Grove Church of Christ to support homeless youth who have been identified as at-risk of dropping out of high school. The graduation coaches are presented plans and strategies to keep students motivated and help them achieve graduation. They are teamed with students at the start of the school year and meet regularly to provide much-needed guidance, support, and assistance in the youth’s school life.
“Our graduation coaches are trained mentors who have committed themselves to working with students throughout their senior year in high school to ensure that they are on the right track to graduation,” said Rod Martin, FBISD Title I social worker and Graduation Coach Program Sponsor. “Youth can be faced with many obstacles in their lives, but our graduation coaches are there to help the students realize that their current situations should not prevent them from being successful in their future lives.”
Graduation Coach Mike Bezner has already witnessed a successful change in his mentee, a Clements High School student. Although Bezner didn’t know what to expect from the mentorship program at first, he now looks forward to the mentoring sessions. “My student has become more open and trusting of me,” said Bezner. “He’s also improved on his grades, earning A’s and B’s last semester, and has been accepted to the University of Houston.”
Kathy Cameron, Graduation Coach to two female students at Elkins High School, often wondered if her mentees considered her visits worthwhile. She was convinced when one of the girls admitted, “You add value to our lives because there aren’t many adults who care about us the way you do.” That heartfelt testimony is one of the reasons Kathy keeps coming back to work with the program. In fact, both Kathy and her husband, Jeff, are graduation coaches. She says, “Personally, I get as much from the students as they get from me. This program gives me hope for their futures and for our country.”
If you would like to become a graduation coach or mentor in other Title I programs, please call, 281-634-1357.