21st TSC continues partnership with KHS

by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Taylor
21st TSC Public Affairs

A partnership between the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and Kaiserslautern High School has evolved into a Mentor a Student Today Program, which affords the command’s Soldiers, civilians and family members a range of mentorship opportunities.

M.A.S.T. encourages mentoring students in specific content areas such as math, language arts, science, and social studies. Volunteers can also assist teachers in areas such as the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, culinary arts, track and field, basket ball, drama and theater, as well as with multicultural observances. 
The partnership began several years ago, and since then, the mentorship program has grown.

“It’s an outreach program that supports our students who are in need academically or socially,” said Cynthia R. Jackson, M.A.S.T supervisor, who has a doctorate in education leadership and is a KHS science teacher.

“But the program isn’t only there to support students who are having difficulty academically; we also have elite students who are in advanced courses who request mentors,” Jackson said.

The mentorship program assists KHS students improve overall academic achievement, improves communication and social skills, and provides guidance for decision-making or problem-solving skills.   

“The program was started as a peer-to-peer tutorial program, however we realized that there are so many resources available in the community that we decided to reach out in the community and allow them the opportunity to come into the school and help our students,” Jackson said.

Volunteer times are at the school between 1:45 and 2:50 p.m., with the exception being sporting events and multicultural observances, which may take place on weekends and not on the school grounds.

Volunteers who take part in the program can receive volunteer hours along with a volunteer certificate, and they also have the opportunity to receive a volunteer award from the unit.

“We need adult volunteers who care and want to implement a positive change by providing academic and social support in a student’s life,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the volunteers are like an outside resource.  She said she believes the students are more likely to open up to an adult not directly involved in their education environment.

“The program allows the students to actually open up to someone other than their teacher or their parent, whom they may be uncomfortable telling that they are failing. The student may also be uncomfortable asking certain types of questions in front of class,” said Lt. Col. Donna K. Fanning, commander of the 21st Special Troops Battalion and KHS mentor. “With a mentor, you are an external source coming in, and so now, they’re willing to talk about where they have issues.”

Mentors can help guide the students and even look at other areas that may help them improve and become more confident in themselves to be able to speak up in class or get help later.

In the first week of this school year, approximately 35 students had already signed up for the program. Fanning contributes this large number to students hearing about the program from other students and how well it helped them during the previous year.

The school has 33 volunteers who participate in the program. There are now approximately 75 students currently enrolled in the program. Every volunteer works with three to five students during their sessions, and according to Fanning, the goal is to have one mentor per student.

“Based on the mentorship program that the 21st TSC has started and the way it’s growing, we have already had other high schools to include the Air Force that want to get involved,” Fanning said.

“I foresee this program expanding to the entire Kaiserslautern district, which includes Ramstein, Baumholder, the elementary schools and the middle schools,” Jackson said. “I would also like to see a partnership with the Air Force. If we can have a joint partnership then we can have a program that expands to the entire district and ultimately help all of our students.”

For more information on participating in the program or for any questions, contact the program supervisor, Cynthia R. Jackson, at cynthia.jackson@eu.dodea.edu, or  489-7541 or 0631-536-7541.