Cloud Springs Baptist Church members mentor local students

Cloud Springs Baptist Church members mentor local students

March 7th, 2012 by Katie Ward in Local Regional News

Cloud Springs Elementary School second-grader Logan Swindle gives John Gentry a high-five in the media center and sits down to begin coloring, while talking about his day.

Gentry isn't a teacher, and this isn't an unusual scene. It happens every Wednesday, when Gentry and his wife, Cloud Springs Baptist Church Children's Director Sara Gentry, mentor students.

Cloud Springs Baptist Church member John Gentry mentors second-grader Logan Swindle inside the media center at Cloud Springs Elementary School once a week. Logan colors a page about Native Americans.

Cloud Springs Baptist Church member John Gentry mentors...

Photo by Katie Ward

Sara Gentry works with Cloud Springs Elementary kindergarten student April Yates.

"Cloud Springs Elementary School is in our church's backyard," said John Gentry. "So we felt a calling to reach out to the kids.

"We [Logan and I] generally talk about how his week went. He did well with conduct. He likes to play Connect 4 and he beats me. He is good at math and very meticulous. He reads and does a good job."

Cloud Springs Elementary School media specialist Kelley Mitchell, who chairs the school's mentor program, said having a mentor equals behavioral and motivational improvements in class. Mentors help students work puzzles, color and complete assignments.

"Cloud Springs Baptist has been great to come over here. You can see their members care for our school," said Cloud Springs Elementary School principal Cliff Brittingham. "The mentor program was part of Partnership 2000. It has been going on for several years to develop relationships between businesses and organizations in our community."

He said nine mentors come once a week to meet with students for half an hour.

"[My wife and I] try to be as consistent as we can," said John Gentry, adding that they show up every week. "Children need consistency."

Brittingham said about 72 percent of the students at Cloud Springs Elementary are on free or reduced lunch. He said many of their parents work more than one job and don't have much free time to spend with their children. He said a mentor can help the parents by spending time with the children.

Sara Gentry said her family took a vacation to the beach recently and brought back seashells and beach-themed coloring books to share with April and Logan. She said she thinks about April throughout the week and looks forward to meeting with her.

Brittingham said he notices the positive connections between the students and mentors.

"The kids need someone to read to and the mentor program provides that outlet," he said. "Mentors meet with students in the courtyard, library or on the playground. We can always use more mentors."