Improvement in grades, attitude and accountability was the topic of conversation on May 2 when Gloucester County College student mentors met with Gateway High School Principal Steven Hindman and Director of Guidance Carol O'Connell.
Eleven GCC mentors met with Gateway and Paulsboro High School tenth and twelfth graders throughout the spring semester, serving as role models to students experiencing difficulties in school. Many of the college students volunteering from Dr. Dawn Conley's sociology class have faced similar hurtles themselves while in school and were able to offer valuable advice on the best approach to overcoming both academic and personal challenges.
"We are happy to participate with Gloucester County College and host their students who served as very positive role models for our students," said Hindman. The principal noted that the Gateway students had parental permission to take part in the sessions and that although a school administrator was present during the meetings, discussions among the students were private.
"It is more powerful for high school students to hear from young college students who are reaching their goals," noted O'Connell.
For Taylor Walters, of West Deptford, the opportunity to volunteer as a mentor proved to be a career-altering experience, causing her to change her major to art therapy. "This has been very rewarding on both ends," said Walters. "It's not that we just helped teens, they helped us too."
"I am really grateful for the students' willingness to give back," said Conley, the catalyst for initiating and coordinating the College's mentoring program. "I had an idea and know some of the stories of our students, and thought they could really make an impact on the high school students. One person can make a difference."
GCC's 250-acre campus is located at 1400 Tanyard Road in Deptford, right off Exit 56 of Route 55.