National Mentoring Month is recognized each January to focus attention on the need for and importance of mentors who volunteer their time to assure positive outcomes for young people. VBCPS is fortunate to have many individuals from the community, businesses, military, faith-based organizations and government agencies who mentor students in our schools. Their work will be highlighted on The Core throughout January.
Jacob Davis has volunteered his time to help elementary school students since he was an elementary school student himself. His mother was responsible for managing the dinners served to W.T. Cooke Elementary students participating in the Care by Community (CBC) afterschool program at their family’s church, Virginia Beach United Methodist. Davis, as a third-grader, helped his mom serve dinner every week to students. He saw other volunteers help students with homework and other activities.
Davis, now a sophomore at First Colonial High School and in his seventh year as a volunteer with the school-church partnership, is the one helping fifth-graders with their homework and enjoying a lively game of four square. He worked with kindergarten students in the program throughout his middle school years.
“I like helping others. It makes me happy,” Davis said. “I like that the kids know they have support here and that we will be here for them week after week. We’re reliable, and I know that is important to them.”
He hopes to continue supporting students after college as a high school teacher and plans to enroll in the school division’s Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow (VTfT) class next year.
Davis’s brother, Zach, and Ben Stahl, both seniors at First Colonial High School, also have served as CBC mentors for many years. In fact, Stahl’s work with the CBC program inspired his Eagle Scout project.
“I realized that we are the ones with the students for two hours in the afternoon and then we take them home, and the parents never get to see all of this,” Stahl explained, gesturing to church classrooms with whiteboards and rolling carts of books and games.
So Stahl planned an open house for parents near Valentine’s Day, complete with crafts, classroom visits and a family dinner by Outback Steakhouse. In addition, Stahl conducted research and made a presentation to the parents about the positive impact the CBC program is having on student success.
“You should see the data,” he said. “It’s making a huge difference. These kids are really learning and improving.”
Like Jacob Davis, Stahl is considering education as a career, and he hopes to earn one of the coveted VTfT scholarships that guarantees recipients a VBCPS teaching contract after college graduation if they have met all the criteria for teaching at the beach.
“I live at the beach,” Stahl said, “and I want to do what I can to improve it and help the students who live here.” Stahl notes that he also benefits from volunteering.
“Kids are funny,” he said with a smile. “We always have a good time.”