By Nan Thomas (English teacher)

MYcroSchool Gainesville students enjoying a well deserved BBQ at Mentor2Mentor's first meeting.

MYcroSchool Gainesville students enjoying a well deserved BBQ at the first Mentor2Mentor meeting.

On April 12th the Mentor2Mentor program got off to a great start! Students were treated to a cookout before attending their first meeting. A big ‘thank you’ goes out to Mr. Lawton Jackson for volunteering his time to be our grill master, and to MYcroSchool Principal Randy Starling who provided the food for the event. The Mentor2Mentor program for interested MYcroSchool students is the brainchild of Pastor Gerard Duncan from Innovative Dads Inc. /Prayersbyfaith Ministries. English Teacher Nan Thomas is working with Pastor Duncan on this innovative program whose purpose is for students to not only graduate from high school, but to enter college or a trade school upon their graduation.

To date, forty-seven students are enrolled in this program that will not only bring college student mentors to these Mentor2Mentor members, but allow MYcroSchool Mentor2Mentor members to give back by mentoring younger students at area schools. Meetings are biweekly on Tuesday and Thursday. Members will meet during school hours to work together on issues that are relevant to their success in school as well as life. Some issues that will be tackled are the importance of respect, both for self and others; being responsible; making better choices; prioritizing activities, and a host of other topics geared to enriching the lives of these students.

MYcroSchool Gainesville students with mentors from Innovative Dads Inc. /Prayersbyfaith Ministries, Project Connect and Youth and Community Sciences from the University of Florida.

Mentor2Mentor morning members gathering in front of MYcroSchool Gainesville.

In attendance at the kickoff was Nasia Basha, a Project Connect Transitional Specialist, as well as Dianne Pearson, Chief Probation Officer Circuit 8 from the Dept. of Juvenile Justice, and Melanie Kretzman, Community Liaison. Any Mentor2Mentor student dealing with DJJ who participates in the mentoring program will receive a restitution waiver.

Also joining in the event was Dr. Randy Cantrell, Asst. Professor from Family, Youth and Community Sciences from the University of Florida, who will assist in providing Housing and Development community project opportunities to bridge the gap between our next generation youth and Aging In Place programs for the elderly.

In the works for student members is a fieldtrip to both Santa Fe College campuses for students to meet with staff from the different college programs that they may be interested in entering after graduation from MYcroSchool. Pastor Duncan is currently working with members of the community to get college grants for these students to assist them with the financial demands of furthering their education.

Mentor2Mentor student members excited to join the MYcroSchool Gainesville basketball team.

Mentor2Mentor student members can’t wait to join the first MYcroSchool Gainesville basketball team.

Additionally, the Mentor2Mentor student members will have the opportunity to play on the newly forming MYcroSchool basketball team— a team that will join a local league. The students are already excited about playing, as well as having their own personalized team jerseys. Their coach will be Mr. Anthony Ray, another dedicated volunteer who spoke at the kickoff event.