The Starfish Mentoring program was started in 1997 to provide one-on-one mentoring support for Rappahannock children, between the ages of 6 and 17, who can benefit from such support. In 2013, a coaching component was added to the program to meet the needs of high school students who are interested in exploring a specific career path. These students are then matched with a volunteer coach who has experience in that field to share. The mentors and coaches are trained adult volunteers who meet regularly with these children. The program works closely with parents and the public schools and is comprised solely of volunteers and managed by a director. Starfish provides the vital support that many children need in meeting the social, emotional, and academic challenges of childhood and adolescence. Mentoring activities may be social, educational or recreational. A mentor can often make the difference as to whether or not a child succeeds in developing the self-esteem and confidence necessary to grow into a healthy, productive adult. Coaching offers older students activities and guidance aimed at giving substantial pictures of particular fields of study or work.
How To Become A Mentor Or Coach
Mentors and coaches, who must be over the age of 21, are desperately needed in Rappahannock County. Many adults assume they do not have the skills needed or believe they cannot make the required commitment to be a mentor or coach. Sadly, they never discover how naturally mentoring comes to most of us and how easy it is to do. To be an effective mentor or coach, you must care about children and be willing to spend regular and consistent time in order to create a relationship with one child. In addition to an initial orientation, mentors and coaches receive ongoing training and support. Volunteer professional consultants also provide assistance as needed. Each mentee/coachee is screened to ensure that his or her placement with a Starfish mentor is appropriate.
Starfish Mentoring’s success is due to the outstanding volunteer efforts of its mentors, who are guided and supported by a group of highly experienced professional volunteers.
Starfish Students And Summer Camps
Starfish Mentoring recognizes that summer enrichment opportunities, such as summer camps, can play a crucial role in preventing summer learning loss for Starfish students. According to extensive research done by Johns Hopkins University’s National Center for Summer Learning, “two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.” (Alexander et al., 2007) Headwaters is generously supported by individuals who make unrestricted annual gifts, donations which enable bridging the gap between the costs of its programs, such as Starfish Mentoring, and contributions.