Wanted: A few good mentors

Moody: Mentors most needed at elementary level

-Submitted photo
Mentor Ann McBride smiles after spending time with middle school student Ashlee Behrens. McBride was a mentor to Behrens at Cooper Elementary School and then followed her to Fort Dodge Middle School.

Corey Moody is looking for a few good men. And, of course, a few good women as well.

Moody, the Fort Dodge Community School District mentoring coordinator, is looking to recruit new mentors to the program, which began in 1994.

As with a lot of things, COVID has taken its toll on the number of mentors within the program. Moody said the program lost a lot of older mentors during the pandemic and he’s struggled to bring people back into the program, which was placed on hiatus for a couple years.

“We have some good numbers in the high school and the middle school,” he said. “Those people started with students when they were younger and are sticking with them. We’ve got a lot of students who need to be paired with a mentor in the elementary schools.”

Students are referred to Moody by their teachers, school counselors, principals and parents. The students range from elementary school all the way through high school. There’s never a shortage of students in need of a mentor, Moody said.

Each mentor is paired with a student and spends time with that student on a weekly basis. The goal, said Moody, is for students to have a positive, healthy, one-on-one relationship with an adult role model.

“They can do a variety of things,” said Moody. “They might have lunch together, or help with school work or just talk. We try to make sure they are a good match for each other.”

The mentoring program is part of the BRIDGES student services program at the school district. The BRIDGES program provides a wide range of support services for students who may need it.

New mentors are usually assigned to an elementary school student and then the pair stays together as students progress through the grade levels.

Moody said most of the mentors at the high school and middle school are back with students they first met in elementary school.

He said his biggest need is mentors to start the program with current elementary students.

“My list there has just dwindled,” he said.

Moody said he’s had some current high school students reach out to him about mentoring elementary aged students. He said he plans to pair them with Cooper Elementary School students since the two buildings are so close together.

Moody said in the past when he’s needed help with mentors, the community has answered the call. He said he hopes that’s the case again this year.

“One year, I said I needed 25 mentors and the next week we had all 25 spots filled. The community of Fort Dodge has been fantastic,” he said.

Anyone is welcome to become a mentor. Moody said he’s had students from Iowa Central Community College, retired community members and even law enforcement members serve as mentors.

To volunteer as a mentor, those interested just need to fill out a mentoring application and go through a simple background check. Once approved, Moody will work with them to find a good match with a student and do a short training with the mentor before they go into the school.

The time commitment is just 45 minutes to an hour a week. Most mentors just visit their students at school during the school day, sometimes even just over a lunch break. They’ll chat, help them with their homework, play games, read to them — whatever works best for the pairings.

“It’s not so much what you do,” Moody said. “It’s taking that time to do it.”

In the 28 years of BRIDGES, the impact of the program is pretty clear, according to Moody.

“I’ve had a couple of former students that had a mentor when they were little and have now become a mentor,” he said.

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor can reach out to Moody at the high school. His number is 515-574-5469 or email him at cmoody@fdschools.org.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today