Mentoring program in the works

Bill Pinson, fourth from left, talked to the Rotary Club of Chilton County about starting a mentoring program in Chilton County. Other guests at the meeting included Pam Price, Jason Baxley, Amanda Baxley and Rex Cleckler.

Implementing a mentoring program in Chilton County has proven to be an arduous undertaking, but Bill Pinson and others are undeterred because they believe Chilton County is in desperate need of such a program.

Pinson, a Verbena resident and graduate, spoke to the Rotary Club of Chilton County about the program on Oct. 10.

Pinson was volunteering with the county Department of Human Resources when he conducted an interview with Judge Rhonda Hardesty, who told Pinson that the county needed a mentoring program. Pinson went to work, excited about starting the program, but there was more work involved than he knew.

The program had to establish a tax-exempt status so it could accept donations, a board of directors had to be organized, guidelines had to be established and a plan put in place.

Now comes what could be the most difficult part: identifying mentors and begin implementing the program.

“The thought process behind the mentoring program is, we want it to be for all the children of Chilton County, but we need to look at it from the standpoint that we want it to last,” Pinson told club members at one of their regular meetings at Clara’s Cafe.

So, organizers decided to begin a pilot program at Verbena High School. They hope to have the program in place by January 2013.

The program will be offered through DHR. Adults will provide children in grades 6-10 guidance on academics and character. Regular meetings will be set up, and the mentors will stay in touch with students about significant events, such as tests.

Pinson said organizers hope to present a plan to the Chilton County Board of Education on Oct. 16. The board would have to give permission for the program to be implemented.

An important part of the process will be instituting safeguards for everyone involved to make sure there is no chance for an improper relationship between mentor and mentee.

“We’re putting stop-gaps in place to make sure we’re controlling the communication,” Pinson said.

Pinson said he thinks a foundation is being laid that will allow the program to succeed in helping Chilton County students while working under a realistic timeline.

“It may be four years until we’re at Chilton County High School because we want to prove it at Verbena and move on from there–but maintain it as we move forward,” Pinson said. “We want to keep borderline kids out of the court system. We’re trying to bring the community back into schools.”

Pinson encouraged those who would like more information to contact him at 280-6005 or wrpinson@gmail.com.

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