January is National Mentoring Month
Guard members give ‘MORE’ as volunteer reading mentors
Story by Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard
COLUMBUS, Ohio (01/15/20)
During the school year, you’ll find Ohio National Guard members in area schools serving as reading volunteers.
Sgt. 1st Class Nena Slate is among Guard members who are Project MORE volunteers. Project MORE (Mentoring in Ohio for Reading Excellence) was founded on in 1999. The nonprofit program at schools across Ohio matches adults to serve as mentors with children who have reading deficits, with the goal of every child participant becoming a better reader.
Slate, with the Ohio Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, started mentoring in the Columbus area in 2017.
“The most rewarding part of volunteering with Project MORE is the feeling you get when you have been working hard to help a mentee work through their reading struggles and they say ‘I did it! I am so proud of myself.’ It is priceless,” Slate said.
Mentors work with students during 30-minute sessions several times a week during school hours. Research has shown how students struggling to read can improve when they receive one-on-one reading mentoring.
“Over the past six years, we have heard numerous heart-touching stories regarding the dedication and success of National Guard mentors with our students. I cannot think of any better image, nor example of an exemplary mentor, than seeing a Project MORE volunteer reading mentor in uniform working proudly with their student,” said Dr. Jan Osborn, director of Project MORE.
Osborn added that in addition to students becoming better readers because of mentors like Slate and other Ohio National Guard members, they also develop “positive and healthy social-emotional skills.”
For Slate, the most important aspect to being a mentor is to remember that each child learns differently.
“We can’t let them give up and, of course, we can never give up on them,” she said.
January is National Mentoring Month, a national campaign conducted each year to promote youth mentoring in the United States.