Rambler Newspapers

Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Community volunteers mentor IISD students

A group of volunteers from churches and other religious organizations gathered at a faith partnership luncheon, on Feb. 11, to talk about the success volunteers have had inside Irving schools.

The lunch, hosted at Singley Academy, was a meeting for Partnerships in Education—a collaboration between Irving ISD (IISD), community members and School Works, a coalition of local churches that are involved in the school district.

The program offers students the chance to have a mentor, tutors and reading buddies. Other special programs are geared toward parents, such as computer and English literacy classes, help for homeless or displaced families and home instruction of parents of pre-school youth.

“Irving is a remarkable community,” said IISD Superintendent, Jose Parra, in a welcome address. “People cooperate to find the right way to support kids… We pride ourselves on the fact that we have very good people all over the district, so I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Last year, IISD boasted about 650 mentors. This year, the number has swelled to 800.

“Mentoring is a great way to positively impact our students,” said Jose Villasenor, Program Director for the district’s Responsive Counseling Services.

Mentors for middle and high school students usually meet with their students during their lunch hour, and many mentors have been regularly meeting with their mentee for several years.

“I’m in my third year with my lunch buddy,” said Jan Fanning, director of School Works. “There’s so much enjoyment of being together and you feel like you’re making a difference. I’d highly recommend it.”

At the elementary school level, reading buddies routinely visit with children to read one-on-one.

“If we join together to form a partnership, it’s amazing what we can do,” said Brett McKinney, mission pastor at Irving Bible Church. “We can get students the resources they need and the help they need.”

For more information about becoming involved, email irvingisdmentoring@irvingisd.net or the Partnership in Education coordinator, Thelma R. Canut, at tcantu@irvingisd.net.