Moscow Mentors is a local support program that seeks to serve youth in the Moscow school district by connecting K-12 students with mentors from the community and the University of Idaho.
Charlie Gerke, Moscow Mentors Program director, said he encourages any college student or community member who wants to support a student to become involved with the program.
“Moscow Mentors is really a support and prevention program,” Gerke said. “Students must receive a referral from their school counselor, but any kids that are in need of a little extra support or want a mentor are welcomed into the program.”
The program currently has 16 students on a waitlist to receive a mentor. Once mentors are trained, they are matched with students based on common interests and need.
Mentors must apply and pre-register at the Moscow School District Office to go through the program training.
The next group training will be held at 6 p.m., Nov. 7 at the Moscow School District Office.
The program was founded 16 years ago with the help of the Moscow Rotary Club and the Moscow School District to provide students with extra guidance and adult support.
“Though we haven’t conducted a formal evaluation, there have been studies showing the benefits of mentor programs in general,” Gerke said. “Students involved in mentoring programs have been shown to have better attendance, better grades, a stronger sense of self and are less likely to initiate social problems in the future.”
The mentors spend one hour per week with their mentee and are encouraged to continue interaction from year to year.
Alex Stork, an elementary education major, became a mentor last year. Stork had formerly been involved with another mentorship program in his hometown and said he joined Moscow Mentors to get involved in the Moscow community and give back.
“I feel like I’ve been blessed with the role models I’ve had in my life. I wanted to give back to kids who don’t necessarily have those strong role models,” Stork said.
Gerke is also a mentor for the program and said it is a rewarding program to be active in.
“The most rewarding part of being a mentor is the way kids light up when you come in,” Gerke said. “Moscow Mentors is a program without an agenda. We’re there to just spend time with the kids, just to truly be with them and accept them as they are now.”
Stork said he agrees that the students are what give value to being a mentor.
“When the kids have that a-ha moment and start to open up is very rewarding,” Stork said. “These kids are amazing. My kid that I mentor is smarter than me and very respectful. He was picking up trash the other day, just because. These kids are good-hearted and deserve good role models.”
Cara Pantone can be reached at email@example.com