BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post —
A small group of professionals is looking to make a big difference for Northampton County students.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, “our whole culture is different – how education is viewed in our community,” said Ami Butta, one of the founders of Shore Mentors.
The COVID-19 pandemic made a lasting impact on a generation of students, made evident by lagging test scores and attendance rates and increased mental health concerns.
Concerned community members like Butta have taken notice and are joining together to help.
Butta, a social worker who worked in that capacity for two years in Northampton County Public Schools, started Shore Mentors in 2022 with another social worker, Susan Burger, and Clare Nowakowski, who holds a master’s degree in business administration.
Shore Mentors successfully placed a dozen volunteers in local schools last year, and the group hopes to expand its ranks this year.
Many among them are career educators, including Sigrun Lucas, an educational consultant and former professor; Karen Gliedman, a 30-year veteran elementary school teacher; Jim Ruessler, a retired science teacher; and Stacy Drake, who taught dance for more than 20 years.
They will provide mentoring and tutoring services to Northampton students individually or in small groups, starting at Kiptopeke Elementary School. The Shore Mentors group anticipates eventually expanding its services to all Northampton schools.
Northampton schools Superintendent Lisa Martin requested adding the tutoring services to help address student learning loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, kids were sent out of the classroom for tutoring, but this year, mentors will complete their volunteer hours in the classrooms. This way, they can tutor up to four students at once and assist teachers as needed.
Shore Mentors is also seeking volunteers to tutor students on the basketball team after school.
Butta spoke of the positive impact the mentors make on the students. “The kids start coming to school knowing there’s a caring adult there,” she said.
Volunteer hours are flexible, with a suggested minimum of one day per week, one to three hours per day.
Shore Mentors is always seeking new volunteers, both women and men.
“Our elementary school children don’t have a lot of male role models around them,” Butta said.
Volunteers must be age 21 or older and fulfill the following requirements before they may enter classrooms: complete a two-hour training session, pass a tuberculosis screening, and pass a criminal background check.
The next training session is Monday, Oct. 16, 2 p.m., at the Cape Charles Civic Center.
For more information, email [email protected]