Starting this fall, Carbon County school districts will benefit from a new mentoring program designed to improve student performance in the classroom.
The CarbonCorps initiative is led by the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. It's set to launch at Panther Valley Elementary School in the fall.
"We based it off of similar mentoring programs in local communities and across the country," said Gina Nichols, assistant director of rural education at United Way.
An educational mentor, similar to a counselor, will be placed in the school to help struggling students.
"Whether they're having difficulties with interacting with other kids, they're having trouble with attendance, they're having trouble with academics," said Robert Palazzo, principal of Panther Valley Elementary School.
Through the program, mentors will have the ability to connect families to critical community resources.
"Whether it be different medical providers they need to get in touch with, mental health providers, food banks, if they need support with services like utilities, anything like that," said Palazzo.
In turn, they'll work to improve students' physical and behavioral health and enhance their classroom performance overall. The program is based on research which shows mentors have positive impacts on young students.
"Students who are connected to a mentor are more likely to attend school more regularly, graduate from high school, attend college, hold leadership positions, and most importantly serve their community as adults," said Nichols.
While CarbonCorps is made possible by grants, community partners are also playing a big role. AMETEK in Nesquehoning has partnered with Panther Valley to invest thousands of dollars into the program.
"This is our future workforce right, so we need to make sure we're preparing our workforce, but really it's giving back to the community. That's what the AMETEK Foundation does," said John Mayernik, plant manager at AMETEK.
CarbonCorps will also be implemented this school year in the Palmerton and Weatherly school districts.