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Hall County, Gainesville school superintendents thank community mentors for service
Center Point provides mentors to local schools
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Hall County superintendent Will Schofield speaks Wednesday about the importance of mentors at a dinner honoring Center Point mentors at McEver Road United Methodist Church in Oakwood. The mentors usually work with their student once a week for about 45 minutes. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Become a mentor

Center Point is offering two training sessions next month for those interested in becoming mentors.

  • 6 p.m. Feb. 5, Murrayville library, 4796 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville
  • 10 a.m. Feb. 21, Gainesville library, 127 Main St. NW, Gainesville

For more information visit http://centerpointga.org or call 770-535-1050.

All that children need to succeed is one adult who cares about them.

Center Point works to give Hall County and Gainesville students an adult role model, and the program’s mentors were recognized and celebrated in a dinner Wednesday at McEver Road First United Methodist Church in Oakwood.

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield and Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Wanda Creel were both present to recognize the work mentors do in their schools.

“Many of us grew up in homes where we had parents that were there and we had those people that encouraged us and knew how to help us be successful,” Creel said. “We have children today who don’t have that. You step in each and every day and help them understand they can be anything they want to be.”

Schofield agreed and encouraged all Hall County and Gainesville leaders to stop and consider whom they mentor.

He told a story from his first years as a mathematics teacher 27 years ago about a student named Shirley.

Schofield said Shirley was very gifted, but she never did her homework and would get C’s on most of her tests.

“I’m going to be completely honest with you,” he said. “I was very hard on Shirley.”

One November morning, he was driving to work and passed a stretch of tar paper shacks. Sitting on the porch of one of those shacks at nearly 6 a.m. was Shirley.

“That day when Shirley came in I said, ‘You were up mighty early this morning. What were you doing outside that early? Your bus doesn’t come by that early, does it?’” Schofield said. “Shirley put her head down and said, ‘Mr. Schofield, when my mom’s boyfriend spends the night I have to spend the night out on the porch.’”

Schofield thanked all the Center Point mentors for helping students like Shirley. He said it’s important to remember there is more for children to learn than history, algebra or science.

Creel said Center Point mentors empower children who might not have known what they were capable of otherwise.

“You see potential in the children that you help every day,” Creel said. “Thank you for seeing that potential.”

Staci Tunkel, director of mentorship for Center Point, said January is National Mentoring Month. She said the dinner was the first time Center Point mentors had been recognized altogether by the community, and it was a nice way for them to meet and share their experiences.

There are more than 200 mentors currently involved in the program, which serves students in Hall County and Gainesville City school systems and children in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County.

That’s more than 27,000 children, Tunkel said, so the need for more mentors is great.

“If you even just take poverty as a factor, we’re talking about nearly 8,000 students,” she said. “These kids could use just a little more help, someone who can pour into them and open their eyes to other opportunities.”

Center Point is offering two training sessions next month for those interested in becoming mentors.

  • 6 p.m. Feb. 5, Murrayville library, 4796 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville
  • 10 a.m. Feb. 21, Gainesville library, 127 Main St. NW, Gainesville

For more information visit http://centerpointga.org or call 770-535-1050.

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