We were sitting in a dark booth in the bar section of The Greenhouse, when we first heard about an ambitious endeavor being made by a large group of Denton entities (namely: United Way Denton, Communities in Schools, UNT, Denton ISD, and the City of Denton). We were there with District 1 City Councilman, Kevin Roden, and he was talking about speaking with Denton ISD Superintendent, Jamie Wilson, and what he would do if he had a large army of volunteers at his disposal.
"You get me 10,000 volunteers, and we'll make a difference in our schools," Wilson reportedly said.
That caught our ear and we were immediately on board. We're in and out of Denton ISD schools all the time. Heck, some of us even work there. We're invested in those kids and we don't want them dropping out, failing or even getting that faux-hawk haircut, if it can be prevented. We want to help. You probably do, too. What's stopping us at this point? That's where Mentor Denton comes in.
Mentor Denton is a new entity dedicated to bringing volunteers into our schools in the City of Denton. Through Mentor Denton, you'll learn just what it is to be a mentor, why you're needed and how you can go ahead and get started.
That brings us to that fairly large-seeming number Wilson said earlier. Ten thousand may seem like a lot of volunteers. It's 10x the grains of rice that are in any given bowl according to deceased comedian Mitch Hedberg, but when you consider the fact that UNT has over 36,000 students, TWU has 13,000 and there's a bunch of us just trying to hang out and live here, that number starts to look a little more paltry.
By fall of 2015, Mentor Denton hopes to have 10,000 volunteers signed up to dedicate an hour of their time, once a week for a year to partner with a Denton ISD student and change their life for the better.
Maybe you think you're not "mentor" material. While interviewing local comedian Ron Lechler the other week, we discussed this very subject. He shared his concern that he might not make the greatest role model for kids. He's wrong. There is no set mold for what a mentor is or can be. Different kids need different things. There is most certainly a child out there - maybe he's a Newton Razyor Elementary 5th grader, maybe he's a Guyer High School freshman - who is into stand up comedy. Maybe he's a bit of a jerk, like Lechler. Maybe he's having a hard time at school due to circumstances at home. Hanging out with someone for an hour a week would be a boon to this young mind, and we're sure there's someone there who needs you, too.
The fall of 2015 may seem like a ways off, but it will be here before you know it, and aside from that, Denton ISD needs mentors NOW. We're hoping to gather at least 1,000 volunteers through Mentor Denton this fall in the ramp up to the big number in two years. Go ahead and watch the video embedded above to see how former mentor, Britni Chehayeb's, life was changed by being a mentor for the Denton Independent School District and click through to Mentor Denton to get more information on how you can help.