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Message to teachers: Mentoring can turn students around

LUDLOW-"Don't call kids at risk, call them on the brink of success," said Susan Weinberger at last week's Vermont statewide Mentoring Matters conference. With 36 years experience as a high school teacher and administrator, Weinberger told conference attendees that she "never witnessed a more powerful intervention than mentoring."

The 94 attendees included teachers and counselors from as far away as Maine and New York. They learned from Weinberger that mentoring is as old as humanity, but had its formal beginnings with Aristotle and Plato mentoring philosophy students in the marketplace of ancient Athens.

Workshops at the conference covered topics such as partnering with local businesses, evaluating your program for effectiveness and crisis prevention; the event was co-presented by Kinney Pike Insurance and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County.

Mentoring is an effective intervention and has been shown to reduce a young person's likelihood to smoke by 27 percent, propensity to use drugs by 46 percent and to decrease the likelihood of skipping school by 52 percent.

Windsor County Partners offers mentoring partnerships to Windsor County youth between 8 and 17 who could benefit from a long term, trusting relationship. The program is similar to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Partners are matched according to proximity, interests and personality.

To learn more about mentoring in Vermont, call Kathy Kinter at 674-5101

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