By Susan Gierke, Director, VOICE Mentor Program
VOICE (Volunteers of Issaquah Changing Education) is an in-school volunteer mentoring program helping students in ALL 24 Issaquah schools. VOICE is powered by caring community volunteers who donate one hour a week to mentor students in a one-to-one school setting. Volunteers may choose to work with students in support of social skills and goal setting or as academic tutors working on subject specific material. Regardless of the approach, the results are always the same – VOICE Mentors help students find their own, more confident VOICE!
Mentors enjoy their experience as much as their mentees. Issaquah Highlands’ resident Warren Moskowitz has been a VOICE mentor for 11 years. Warren has mentored several of mentees for five years through middle and high school. Warren states, “It’s a wonderful challenge to get students interested in learning. I enjoy the time and we become friends. I miss my students in the summer and am looking forward to returning to mentoring in September.”
Since its inception in 2004, VOICE has grown immensely. By close of the 2014-15 school year over 285 mentors were matched with 350 students. As the program continues to be recognized for the profound positive effect it has on students, the demand grows. Grand Ridge Elementary Dean of Students, Kathy Keegan says, “We are very fortunate to have so many wonderful VOICE mentors at Grand Ridge. I wish you could see the smiles on the faces of the students when their mentors come to work with them. People don’t realize how powerful an hour a week can impact one child. I am so grateful for our mentors and the gift of their time and talent.” There has been a steady wait list for mentors at all of our schools. Those in proximity to The Issaquah Highlands are Grand Ridge and Clark Elementary, Pacific Cascade and Issaquah Middle Schools and Issaquah High.
Our VOICE Mentors are parents, retirees and business people who commit an hour each week to reach out to a struggling student. We also have many high school students who mentor at the elementary level and receive community service hours for their work. Issaquah High student Pranita Mantravadi shares, “VOICE gave me the chance to really make a difference in a young student’s life, face-to-face. I really recommend this experience to my peers! It’s a meaningful activity that you will think about a lot as you reflect on your high school career.”
This is just one of many Back to School stories about volunteering in September Connections. See more HERE>
You, too, can be that positive VOICE for a student. To learn more and get involved in your Issaquah Highlands community schools, please visit the VOICE website www.VOICEMENTORPROGRAM.org, e-mail VOICE@Issaquah.wednet.edu or call the VOICE office at 425-837-6801. VOICE is funded by the ISSAQUAH SCHOOLS FOUNDATION in cooperation with the ISSAQUAH SCHOOL DISTRICT.