Fairfield saw a fast start to this new school program helping elementary students

A new mentoring program at Fairfield Schools’ Compass Elementary started recently with lots of smiles and playful first introductions between volunteer mentor adults and their young mentees. Second-grader Kingston Wright hits it off with his new mentor Daryan Martin as they bond over a homework assignment. (Photo By Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)
A new mentoring program at Fairfield Schools’ Compass Elementary started recently with lots of smiles and playful first introductions between volunteer mentor adults and their young mentees. Second-grader Kingston Wright hits it off with his new mentor Daryan Martin as they bond over a homework assignment. (Photo By Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)

Outside of parenting or guardianship of children, one of the most effective ways to have a positive impact on kids is to ensure additional caring adults are a part of their lives, officials said.

That’s the mission behind a new mentoring program just started at Fairfield’s Compass Elementary.

Last week saw adult mentors formally and playfully introduced to their young mentees.

The adult volunteers squeezed into tiny elementary school chairs to meet, chat and play games with a dozen children starting the emotional bonding process that creators of the new program hope will aid in their developmental growth.

“Students are excited. Mentors are excited. Parents are excited,” said the Connections Mentoring program founder and Compass Elementary Assistant Principal Asha Lambert.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better first meeting. It’s been great.”

By the end of the current school year, she hopes to be able to match up more adult volunteers with young mentees.

“We have close to 836 kids here at Compass, and we’d love to have a mentor for each one of our kids but we are focusing on our Hispanic and African-American students in need first,” she said.

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The program’s launch was so successful, discussions have started on expanding the service.

“We are already talking about summer classes and going on to next school year,” Lambert said.

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Compass Elementary Principal Kim Hauer said the mentoring program is a key part of the school’s future.

“We know that here at Compass our students will be most successful when they are surrounded by people they have strong relationships with – especially adults,” Hauer said.

“This Connections Mentoring program is providing another stable, healthy, ongoing relationship and another adult our students know will have their back if they need it.”

Fairfield Schools Spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher said mentoring fits in with the district’s strategy to enhance racial and ethnic diversity while assisting students toward success.

“We look at ways to engage our students of color and look for ways to help them to achieve in the classroom and life. This program is the perfect way for them to get involved in something after school,” Gentry-Fletcher said.