When Courtney Kerlick became the counselor at Roberts Road Elementary (RRE), one of the first things she found in her new office was “The Starfish Story,” a poem about how one person can make a difference. Inspired by the poem, she set out to start a mentor program to provide extra support for students in need. The program, dubbed “Starfish Friends,” is now in its seventh year and has positively impacted more than 30 students.
“It’s so amazing to help the kids,” Kerlick said. “The mentors make such a huge impact on all of our students. Everyone is excited to see them when they come for their weekly visits.”
Becoming a mentor is a big commitment with even bigger rewards. Kerlick works with local churches and organizations to recruit volunteer mentors, then provides training and resources, such as games and crafts to keep the mentors and the friends active and engaged. The mentors commit to one visit per week for an entire school year.
“She makes me happy,” one student said when talking about his mentor, Sylvie Morisette. “She reads to me at lunch and helps me.”
Morisette has been a Starfish Friend since the program began seven years ago and has watched her friends grow from kindergarten through fifth grade.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “I come back every year, because I see how the students are positively impacted.”
Students who have taken part in Starfish Friends have progressed academically and socially.
“We’ve seen academic progress, social and emotional growth, increased self-esteem, and an overall sense of well-being,” Kerlick said.
If you are interested in becoming a Starfish Friend, contact Kerlick at email@example.com or 936.931.0300.