Pinellas expanding girls mentoring program
An intervention program aimed at boosting the confidence and grades of at-risk girls is expanding this fall throughout Pinellas County schools.
The Girlfriends program seeks to unite and standardize a hodge-podge of programs now operating in 25 to 30 schools, like this one at Campbell Park Elementary. It will use private funding and mentors to tackle everything from punctuality to appropriate clothing.
"We'd like to help eliminate some of the bad choices girls are making in our schools," Teresa Anderson, the principal at Azalea Middle and the Girlfriends co-chair, told School Board members during a presentation this morning.
This "offers proactive support before a girl gets into trouble" and complements the Doorways Scholarship program, said Bob McIntyre, CEO of Ditek Corp. and past chairman of the Pinellas Education Foundation.
Board member Janet Clark said she was concerned about work-strapped teachers' being asked (by the students) to serve as mentors -- and she and other board members suggested a wide range of community groups that could be tapped for help. But board member Mary Brown, a driving force behind Girlfriends, said it's up to teachers to decide if they want to volunteer.
Brown also had a response for those who might say it shouldn't be up to schools to teach things like personal hygiene and self-respect.
"Parents should be doing it, but we're not going to hop up on parents," Brown told the Gradebook. "We're going to do what we can do ... to help these girls start understanding that you have to learn how to be responsible for you."