Written by Anna Redbond
Summer vacation has come and gone, and somehow we’re already back to the school routine, with early morning scrambles to get lunches ready and school bags packed. The start of a school year always comes with a transition or two, whether that be a new teacher, a new school or even a whole new town. Transitions are hardly ever plain sailing, and rarely are our kids excited to give up their long days of playing outside and staying up late. The good news, though, is that we live in a supportive community filled with resources to help us through all the changes, big or small, good or bad, a new school year brings our way. One such support system is Thrive at School.
Thrive at School is made up of three signature programs hosted by Thrive, a Bozeman area nonprofit that offers mentoring education and support to local families. Through this resource every public school in the Bozeman and Big Sky School Districts now offers the Child Advancement Project (CAP). CAP matches kids in grades K-12 with an adult volunteer mentor from our community, with over 600 matches running each school year. Kids and their mentors meet for an hour per week, during which time they work on homework, play games, create projects and start a friendship.
Research shows that kids with a mentor are 50% more likely to graduate high school, but the benefits of mentoring go far beyond academics alone. Mentors are there to support and encourage, and many develop a strong and lasting bond with their student, with some matches lasting ten years or more. This means that kids have an adult role model that they can rely on to spend an hour of undivided attention with during their school week, to help them over the hurdles that come their way and give them another positive point of connection to school. As one CAP student put it,
“Thank you for being there for me, helping me, and being kind to me. The first time we met, I knew we were going to be best friends forever.”
Thrive at School is more than just mentoring, though. After the school day is over, girls can join Girls on the Run® (GOTR). In this ten week program, girls meet in teams with volunteer coaches to follow a fun and active curriculum, culminating in a celebratory 5K. Girls learn healthy habits, and cover important topics like standing up for yourself, untangling our emotions and deciphering the images we are all bombarded with through the media and social media. One parent sums up the impact of GOTR by saying, “It helped her put her thoughts into place and put them into real life situations.”
Last but not least, there are resources for us parents, too. As with the CAP program, every public school in the Bozeman and Big Sky School Districts now has a Parent Liaison. Thrive’s Parent Liaisons are professionals who offer parenting classes, one-on-one support and connect parents to community resources. What can they do for you, specifically?
- Are your kids starting at a new school?
- Are you new to town?
- Are you concerned about your child’s academics, social or other school issues?
- Do you need someone to talk to about parenting?
- Are you interested in parenting classes?
Parent Liaisons are there to support you with these situations, and more. They’re experts, they’re friendly and they’re there for all of us. There’s one at every school, so just give them a call or stop in their office.
Starting a new school year can be exciting and fun, but it can also be daunting and tiring. Luckily, there’s a lot of support and a wide range of resources out there to ease the transition. If in doubt, give Thrive a call and see whether a CAP mentor might be a good fit for your kid, your daughter might have a blast and learn some life skills in Girls on the Run, or a Parent Liaison might be a good listening ear or resource for you.
If you’re interested in finding out more about what the Thrive at School programs can do for you, or want to find out more about volunteering as a CAP mentor or GOTR coach this school year, please visit allthrive.org/thrive-at-school/ or call us at (406) 587-3840.
Bruce, Mary and Bridgeland, John (2014). The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring.
Washington, D.C.: Civic Enterprises with Hart Research Associates for MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.