Dothan City Schools will host a “Mentor-me” fair to help reach out and grab some helping hands in the community.
“The goal is for us to connect the community with schools for volunteer opportunities,” said Melanie Hill, a former school board member and public school advocate.
The event, which follows a career fair format, will have about 20 tables advertising the opportunities available. Every school will be represented with the principal and faculty members.
“We spoke to principals about what they wanted to recruit for,” Hill said. “People will be able to mingle and hear about specific opportunities. I told them (principals) to make it their own – whatever they need help with.”
The new early education center, Dothan Technology Center, and English as a Second Language (ESL) program will also be represented.
“There’s going to be a lot of reading tutors, math tutor opportunities, so really specialized things,” Hill said. “For example, one of our schools had a man that led a chess team… They need to recruit someone that can do that and more generalized things like mentor students – someone that needs someone to come alongside them.”
Volunteers will have to pass a background check. There will be about three or four short training opportunities in September for those wanting to help, led by Scott Faulk, Director of Safety, Security, and Attendance. Hill said the training would not be too cumbersome.
The event will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at the Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center.
“We want to cast the net wide, and we look forward to seeing a lot of people there,” Hill said.
The idea for the event came about through a partnership with Superintendent Phyllis Edwards, Hill said. Edwards has been a strong advocate for community involvement in the school system.
“It does take more than the school people doing what they do,” Edwards said at a Dothan Tuesday Rotary Club meeting on July 23. “Some of you came up probably about the same time I came up and you had the three-legged stool. You had family, you had the school, and you usually have some religious experience as well. Well, that stool is broken down. Often now, everything is put onto the educational system. We’ve got to change that model.
“We’ve got to somehow find a way in ourselves to come out and think – just like you guys come out and help each other, mentor each other. If you just come around and you make a difference in one child’s life, it will matter. You’ll change that life and who knows what you’ll be creating as you go along. We have no way of knowing how coming next to a person – being in a particular place at a particular time – and being there might have changed the trajectory of your particular child and who knows what that student’s going to be… I really believe all children can learn and it’s up to us to figure out how we meet their needs and how we meet their challenges.”