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CCU Atheneum: A young boy looks up to his college mentor.
A young boy looks up to his college mentor.

TEALmentors and school children take over campus for a day

by Margene Willis
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Don’t be surprised on Wednesday, April 9, when you see hundreds of teal-clad youngsters running around campus with their Coastal Carolina University mentor counterparts.

It’s the ninth annual “A Day in the Life of a College Student,” an opportunity for elementary and middle school children to catch a glimpse of what their life would be like when they go to college. It’s intended to motivate children who might not otherwise consider a higher education path.

Sponsored by the Dalton and Linda Floyd Family’s TEAL mentoring program, the event will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Some 170 third- through eighth-graders from seven elementary schools in Horry County will visit: Carolina Forest, Conway, Homewood, Myrtle Beach, Palmetto Bays, South Conway and Waccamaw; and four middle schools: Aynor, Conway, Myrtle Beach and Whittemore Park.

CCU students and faculty have planned a variety of fun, educational activities for the children and their mentors to enjoy, including:

• a sensory obstacle course, sponsored by the Council for Exceptional Children;
• physical fitness activities with future Physical Education teachers and professor Tim Meyler;
• poetry, music and spoken word by P.E.A.C.E. (Performers Emerging Above Circumstances to Excel);
• drumming with professor Roger Johansen;
• Playcard Environmental Education Center animals and activities;
• marine science activities; ukulele and other arts with Scott Pleasant and friends;
• making pinwheels with Sharon Grice, Clemson Extension;
• Chantathon’s six minutes of service: making cards for sick children at McLeod Hospital;
• visiting Brooks Stadium with assistant football coach Nick Jones;
• lunch in Hicks Dining Hall;
• a visit from Chauncey as children select new books to take home.

Activities will take place in Blanton Park, Wheelwright Auditorium and on Prince Lawn. The visit to campus is usually the first for the children, and it allows them to see where their mentors attend school and have a brief college experience. They especially love the food choices in Hicks Dining Hall! Mentors and children will stand out as they all wear Floyd Family teal T-shirts.

This year more than 350 CCU students have served as TEALmentors with over 400 students from 30 elementary and middle schools in Horry County. They visit their students at school each week, encouraging them to read and succeed in school and life. As successful college students, they serve as positive role models and offer possibilities for the children’s future.

“Mentoring the past two semesters has been so wonderful, and I have enjoyed it so much,” says Melissa Cohen (Education, 2015). “I have learned so much from mentoring these students than I think I could have ever learned in a classroom.”

School counselors have also noted the positive impact of our mentors.

“We had some students who took on leadership roles here at school as a direct result of the time they spent with mentors,” says Sharon Nye, a guidance counselor at Myrtle Beach Elementary. “In some instances, discipline referral numbers went down, but even if the numbers didn't go down, the children's attitudes about being here and learning improved.”

“Several students did not get into as much trouble once they had a mentor/tutor,” says Charlisa Morris, guidance counselo at, Myrtle Beach Intermediate. “Students were always asking about when their mentors/tutors would come back. Other students were asking if they could have mentors, too.”

The CCU mentoring program for children was started in fall 2004 with 53 mentors in five schools as a pilot collaborative program between CCU and Horry County Schools, with funding from the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education. The mentor program was officially launched in fall 2006 with the generous support and encouragement of the Dalton and Linda Floyd Family and the Horry County Commission on Higher Education. Each semester, an average of 235 CCU students from all colleges serve as mentors with children in 30 elementary and middle schools, serving an average of 340 children each year.

This year the program, a project of the Spadoni College of Education’s Biddle Center for Teaching, Learning and Community Engagement, was re-named TEALmentors to reflect the need for mentors to be trustworthy, encouraging, accountable and loyal, and to participate in the increasing TEAL spirit of our campus.

 

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