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Letter: Support for West Hartford Public Schools Mentorship Coordinator

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Dear Editor,

The WHPS mentoring program began in 2001 as a pilot project in a few schools to “allow students the opportunity to reach their potential by offering guidance, encouragement, and support through partnership with caring adults.” It has now grown to a district-wide program for students in kindergarten through grade 12.

The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce is a partner in these efforts to support the needs of the students in our schools . Carol Wilkas has been the district coordinator and the driving force behind the success of this program. In the past week she has been informed that her assignment for the 2023–2024 school year does not include coordinating the Mentor Program. I am writing this letter in support of Carol and encouraging the WHPS to maintain Carol as coordinator of the WHPS Mentor Program .

I have been a mentor in the WHPS for the past 13 years. Carol Wilkas, our valuable district coordinator, has impressed me from day one. From working with program coordinators at each school as well as conducting in-person and online training sessions, she provides continuing support for new and veteran mentors to ensure the success of this program. At the end of the school year mentors are asked to evaluate their interactions with their mentees in an effort for Carol to make improvements to the program . The mentor-mentee annual breakfast which Carol organizes in June provides an opportunity for families to meet with mentors and share the valuable lessons learned .

Due to COVID-related mental health issues there has been an increased need for additional mentors. Carol has single- handedly waged a campaign and has enrolled and trained more than 60 new adult mentors as well as more than 50 peer mentors from Hall and Conard. At Tuesday’s Board of Ed meeting, the Safe Schools Climate Report was presented.

I suggest that the West Hartford Mentor Program should be included as an important intervention to meet the mental health needs of our students.

Carol’s professionalism and dedication are a testament to her commitment to the mentors, mentees, parents, and caretakers, school staff and administrators in the WHPS.

Sherry Feinglass
WHPS  Mentor Program – mentor
WHPS – Retired teacher and curriculum specialist
Foundation for WHPS – board member

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