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Friday, August 20, 2010

Graduate. It Pays. Program

By Guest Blogger Carol Montague-Davis, Assistant Superintendent for Middle Schools for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

Just remembering in my own life how many people supported me when I might have needed a mentor was my motivation for wanting to get involved.

This was my first opportunity of being part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program through Graduate. It pays. After an interview process, I was matched with my little sister who was a repeat 9th grader at North Forsyth High School. She wanted guidance and help academically to help her succeed and be promoted. This was the time to intervene if she wanted to graduate on time from high school. That’s exactly what this program is intended to do.

My little sister and I met faithfully once a week throughout the school year. Most of the time we would do schoolwork, but sometimes we found that we could just talk with each other about whatever she wanted to discuss.

As a school administrator, I work with students every day so I knew there can be a lot beneath the surface. Besides academics, high school can present enormous pressures for students. It’s a very difficult and challenging time in their lives. These students may need some help academically but sometimes they just need a coach and a friend. Often just listening and being there can affect much more than school work alone…it helps build self-esteem and confidence…just encouraging her to understand her value and worth may have achieved much more than helping her with the academics.

Over the year, our friendship grew and we have expanded our activities so now we can see each other both in school and outside of school or what is known as a community-based relationship where we can go to dinner and do other activities in the community.

I had always considered being a mentor, however, I thought perhaps a younger student. Now, I realize the importance of helping a teenager. It was an exciting time to be part of a student’s life, having the opportunity to help her academically and personally. We celebrated her successes and how much she had improved in her classes. As much as I may have had an impact on her life, she impacted mine. She made all her credits and was promoted to her grade level joining her peers in the 11th grade.

Graduate. It pays. Needs YOUR help

Graduate. It pays. matches community volunteers with 9th graders or 12th graders through existing programs managed by Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. This school year the organization plans to match 390 students and still needs 200 adults who are willing to make a one hour weekly commitment.

Teaching or tutoring is NOT a requirement for caring adults. Volunteers must open their hearts, listen with respect, inspire and support your student and be there every week.

For more information please contact Sheryll Strode at 728-9231 or or visit


Amy said...

This program, as well as Big Brothers, Big Sisters is one that is an incredible benefit to everyone involved. If you have found yourself with extra time on your hands this year, please volunteer. I can't say enough about how wonderfult hsi program is!!!

hayes said...

I completely agree ... fabulous program. Thanks for posting this article.

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