College Students Become Mentors

College students at Perk are developing their leadership skills at Perkinston Elementary School.

Each Monday, some fifty students participate in a mentoring program. They visit the nearby elementary school, sharing their time and friendship with the children.

It's a partnership that benefits both the elementary youngsters and their college mentors.

Richard Dedeaux looks forward to spending time with his newfound friend. The leadership mentoring program gives college students an opportunity to improve their community.

"I enjoy helping the kids. We just come to help them learn and give them a little something to feel good about. Have someone older to come and help them and things like that," said Dedeaux.

Four year old Jayla Brown doesn't let her blindness hinder her ability to communicate and make friends. She quickly captured the heart of her mentor, Desiree Miller.

"It just gives me an opportunity. I'm not around a lot of young children first of all. And she's great. She takes control whenever I'm in the classroom. And I just really like working with the kids. I like working with her. She's a lot of fun," said Miller.

"What's the letter?," asked one college student, while helping his young friend read.

Helping the youngsters with school work is just one part of the learning.

"Learning to socialize. Learning to get along. And learning to have someone. And this gives them someone to look up to, someone, a role model. It's really a wonderful thing," said school counselor, Anita Parker.

Yancey Lott thinks it's wonderful. He spent this Monday whipping his mentor at arm wrestling.

"I beat him. Beat him three times," said the second grader.

"I think it helps us maybe more than it helps them. It gives us time to come over here and take time out from school and our busy schedules to help them out and make them feel like they have someone to look forward to every Monday," said his college buddy, Tim McCabe.

The college and elementary students say the 45 minutes goes by much too quickly each week.

The friendships developed during the mentoring sessions reach beyond the formal program. College students who've already finished the leadership class, still keep in touch with their elementary school friends.