A virtual training session for new mentors is planned for Tuesday.

If you can spare an hour each week to mentor a local student to focus on school success, there is an upcoming free training session that you may want to attend.

The “Check and Connect” training program is a new opportunity for members of the community to build relationships with local students in need of assistance.

Nancy Cwynar, director for the Homeless Student Gap Fund of Charlotte County, said “Check and Connect” mentors work directly and collaboratively with individual students and their families, school staff and community service providers to implement strategies that address school success and school completion for students in need of additional support.

“We use data from systemic monitoring to design personalized interventions to keep youth engaged in school,” Cwyner said. “Volunteers are asked to meet via Face Time with students weekly to review progress in attendance, grades, and behavior and give feedback to students.”

Linda Wein is retired educator and has been a mentor for the program since it started three years ago.

“We started with three people and it just grew from there,” Wein said. “My focus is to work with students and get them motivated to graduate and think about college. The goal is to hold them accountable.”

Mentors check in with the teachers to see if the students have been attending school, or if they have any particular needs. In Wein’s case, she helped one boy get a new pair of shoes. She also helped a girl who needed a prom dress.

Wein said she still touches base with many of the students she has worked with over the years.

“You bond with these kids — they are so bright and sometimes they just need to be told that,” Wein said. “It’s very rewarding for both involved.”

There is a virtual Zoom training session planned for Tuesday.

To become a mentor, you must pass a background check, attend training and commit to a two year relationship.

The program has been in the Charlotte County School System for many years, but was only available for school employees in the past.

“Three years ago we worked with the district to invent a community mentor program to take advantage of all the senior knowledge in our community,” Cwynar said. “There are many retired teachers in the community and we’re hoping more will want to help.

For training inquiries, contact Nancy Cwynar at 941-676-2018 or Larry Stewart at 941-258-7796.


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