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Training at M&FRCs prepares adults for mentorship opportunity

By Robert Goetz | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Sept. 28, 2018


The Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Military & Family Readiness Center will be the site of a training session from noon to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 11 for adults who have a desire to be a positive influence in the life of a young person.

The session, facilitated by a representative from Communities In Schools of South Central Texas, prepares participants for volunteer service as a mentor to at-risk students in four school districts across two San Antonio-area counties.

“Communities In Schools is a nonprofit committed to surrounding students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life,” said Sonya Chapa-Weber, CIS of South Central Texas mentor coordinator and session facilitator. “During the training session, prospective mentors can expect an orientation on Communities In Schools programs as a whole – nationally, statewide and locally.”

In addition, prospective mentors will learn about the mentoring relationship and complete an application to become part of the program.

“We will also discuss and choose the campus and grade level best-suited to the mentor,” Chapa-Weber said. 

Part of a national network established in New York City more than 40 years ago, CIS of South Central Texas serves students in the New Braunfels, Comal, Marion and Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City independent school districts. A site coordinator at each CIS campus selects students for the program.

Angela Green, JBSA-Randolph school liaison officer, said JBSA SLOs work with CIS of South Central Texas and CIS of San Antonio to recruit mentors from the JBSA community.

“We’re always seeking more mentors,” she said. “Active-duty members, Department of Defense civilians, retirees and other adult members of the JBSA community are welcome to serve as mentors so they can give guidance to students in our local schools.”

Mentor training sessions are conducted from noon to 1:30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph M&FRCs and from 10 to 11:30 a.m. the third Wednesday of each month at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC. CIS of South Central Texas recruits from the JBSA-Randolph area, while CIS of San Antonio seeks mentors from the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Lackland areas.

Green, who also serves as a mentor, said that helping students succeed is a rewarding experience.

“These students just want to know that someone cares and is listening to them,” she said. “We try to build their self-esteem and support them.”

Mentors meet students at their schools, typically for 30 to 45 minutes once a week, Green said. 

“Meeting them at their school is what’s great about this program,” she said. “Both the student and mentor feel comfortable in that situation.”

The relationship normally begins at the beginning of the school year, but mentors may join the program at any time, Green said. 

“We hope that the relationship will last after the school year ends,” she said. “Some mentors keep up with their student through the summer and even beyond that time.”

Building a relationship with a student is a gradual process, Green said.

“You have to build a bond first and foremost, then the student will open up more,” she said. “You’ll hear what’s going on with them and offer advice, using your experiences to help them, no matter what their situation is.”

Mentoring is a mutually beneficial experience, Chapa-Weber said.

“Mentoring benefits the student and the mentor by creating a friendship with a purpose,” she said. “They help each other; the mentors feel like they are making a change while the students feel the change and impact of having a community member check in with them each week.”

The impact is real, Chapa-Weber said.

“Students with mentors are less likely to skip school and less likely to start using drugs,” she said. “Students with mentors are more likely to enroll in college, participate in extracurricular activities, volunteer in their communities and go on to become mentors themselves as they get older. Mentors gain leadership skills and satisfaction knowing they help someone who needs their coaching.”

For more information, call the school liaison office at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, 210-221-2256; JBSA-Lackland, 671-8388; or JBSA-Randolph, 652-5321.