Partnership for the ages

Partners in Routt County hosts mentor appreciation party

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If you go

What: Senior Partner Friends and Social

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill

— Cristie Scott isn't an employee of the South Routt School District, but she is treated like faculty.

For that matter, so is each of the three AmeriCorps mentors who work in Routt County's middle schools.

And they should be, said Andy Davenport, assistant principal at Soroco Middle School in Oak Creek. Davenport said AmeriCorps mentors such as Scott are invaluable assets to the students they work with and the faculty they help.

"It's a hard job to describe," said Melissa Calhoon, programs manager for Partners in Routt County, which oversees the AmeriCorps program. "They have a very alternative role in the school. Each mentor acts as a mentor, a tutor, provides emotional and social support, after-school programming and in-school programming."

In South Routt, former AmeriCorps mentor Nick Marzano was hired to teach English. This year, Scott brought her arts background and began an after-school program introducing middle school students to various parts of the world through art projects.

"She's terrific," Davenport said.

Partners will recognize AmeriCorps mentors Scott, Hayden Middle School mentor Kinsey Vetter and Steamboat Springs Middle School mentor Laura Vermeulen during an appreciation party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill. The event coincides with January's National Mentoring Month.

Partners in Routt County officials also will recognize its senior partners - local adults who volunteer their time to be mentors and friends to local children.

"This whole organization revolves around these mentors," said Libby Foster, executive director of Partners. "We don't often have the time to stop and say 'thank you.' There is no fundraising component at all. It's really to thank them. Our mentors don't ask for this."

Junior and senior partners are required to spend a minimum of three hours a week together.

"Some partnerships are all about fun and getting out there and trying new things," Foster said. "Some are based on, 'How can I help you with your schoolwork,' or 'let's go talk over a cup of hot chocolate about school and life.'"

Foster estimates her organization currently oversees 39 partnerships. An additional 20 to 25 children want to be part of the program but are waiting to be paired with the right senior partner.

"It's based on personality and interests," Foster said about pairing junior and senior partners. "It's really based on who are they going to click with. It's something we take seriously."

To apply to be a Senior Partner, call Foster at 879-6141.

- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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