With 34 kids registered, the Teammates program in Fairbury is continuing to grow, creating a need for volunteers to help mentor young people. This was the news delivered to Fairbury’s school board on Monday night from the new program coordinator, Patty Swartz.
Swartz emphasized that more and more young people are signing up for this program; however, there have only been 12 matches made so far this year, which is why she stressed the need to have more volunteers.
“Everybody needs a mentor,” said Swartz. “Most of us have had one at one time in our lives. It’s my goal when I make a match that the mentor will provide support from the time they start to graduation from high school. The Fairbury chapter is growing by leaps and bounds. Each time I make a match and think that I have one less child who’s on the waiting list, I receive two or three or four more applications. There’s never a shortage of students wishing to belong to this program.”
There are a number of benefits for students from this program, Swartz explained. She stated that there has been a reduction of absences, behavioral issues and that there has been steady academic improvement among those involved in the program. Because of these benefits, she would like to see more people help out with the program to meet the needs from the school district.
“I get out in the public as much as possible to promote and recruit mentors,” Swartz said. “But I would appreciate anybody’s help in nominating somebody if they know of somebody who would make a good mentor. I would gladly get out and explain the program to them in detail.”
A certain stigma has been assigned to those involved with the program, Swartz believes, which is why she wants to put a stop to that branding.
“I would also like to get anyone who can help me dispel the myth that these are not troubled, and badly behaved students,” said Swartz. “On the contrary, they’re pretty much just a normal kid going through a tough time. Or, not a tough time but a tough life, because just look at the world around us today. “Teammates doesn’t pretend to fix a child’s problems, and we are not psychiatrists or doctors,” Swartz continued. “We do not fix anybody. A mentor is just a good, caring adult who wants to encourage these kids to be the best that they know how to be.”
Nicholas Kroon, principal at Fairbury Jr./Sr. High School explained that he has seen the positive benefits of the Teammates program in Fairbury’s schools. School Board Member Sharon Ebke noted that there has been a reduction in the number of absences in Fairbury’s schools among participants, emphasizing that this is a positive program.
Swartz stated that students involved in the program also have the opportunity to receive funding if they choose to pursue a post-secondary education. If anyone is interested in becoming a Teammate, they are encouraged to reach out to Swartz.
Also during the school board meeting, the board approved the appointment of John Carlson, of Carlson, West, Povondra Architects, to serve as the architect for the various facility-improvement projects coming up in the district. Superintendent Stephen Grizzle stated that he is excited about the projects and has been impressed by Carlson’s work, and the meetings he has had with construction companies.
Also, the board discussed the upcoming Soup It Up For Kids event, which will be on December 10 during the basketball game against Tri County. This fundraiser will begin at 5 p.m., and there will be several different types of soup available. The winner of the taste contest will be awarded with the coveted golden ladle award. More details on this will be coming soon.