Submitted by Denair Unified School District
The first of two informational meetings for community volunteers willing to serve as mentors for students in the Denair Unified School District drew 11 people at lunchtime Thursday.
All filled out applications and soon will undergo background checks conducted by Sierra Vista Child & Family Services officials. The district is working with Sierra Vista to start the program as soon as February.
A second meeting for potential mentors is set for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., also at the district office. It will be another chance for people to ask Sierra Vista representatives about the program.
Sierra Vista a nonprofit based in Modesto that operates a similar system with the 30,000-student Modesto City Schools District.
Superintendent Terry Metzger said her goal is to identify community volunteers willing to meet one-on-one for an hour each week with a student.
The meetings will be held during school hours on the child’s campus. Students from all grade levels and mentors will be matched based on teacher referrals and Sierra Vista’s expertise. Mentors can request students in a particular age range as well as indicate a preference for working with a boy or girl.
“Once we know how many mentors we have, we’ll start making matches,” said Metzger, who was excited about Thursday’s turnout.
The partnership is an extension of a larger mental health pilot program that began last fall, also in collaboration with Sierra Vista. A full-time mental health clinician is stationed at Denair Middle School to work with students and their families from all DUSD campuses.
The program is funded by the Legacy Health Endowment, whose mission is to provide financial and technical support to improve the health of people living in Stanislaus and Merced counties. The nonprofit was created in 2014 as part of Tenet Healthcare’s acquisition of Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock.
One of Legacy Health’s grants funds a program directed by Sierra Vista that focuses on the mental health of people living in southeastern Stanislaus County. Research by Sierra Vista shows that some children and teens in the area can be adversely affected by their socioeconomic status or rural living conditions.