One of the toughest problems facing New York State is the falling graduation numbers. In our high-needs schools, the graduation rate currently stands at 62% meaning 4 out of 10 kids are dropping out. These students are often dealt a difficult situation, and for many of them, the support structures to assist them in coping with these added stresses just aren’t there.
For this reason, one year ago, Islip Town Councilman Steve Flotteron and I launched the Long Island TEAM Initiative. TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More and it is our belief that together as a community we can put a real dent in this problem. By building these kids up through the power of mentoring, we can start a chain reaction in our communities to bring out the best in our students.
The TEAM Initiative works as a referral organization to connect hardworking college students with some of the great mentoring programs across Long Island. Currently we are seeking committed volunteers to work with the Brookhaven Lighthouse Mission, Islip Youth Enrichment Services, Pronto of Long Island, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, among others.
I can tell you that whether a college student’s forte is tutoring math, teaching these kids how to play soccer, or just being a friend to talk to, these things are great ways to engage younger students in our high-needs schools while they get a chance to spend time with positive role models.
As a supporter of bestselling author Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, this touches on my personal favorite: “Think Win-Win.” This program is a win-win-win scenario as: (1) students in our high-risk schools get positive influences in their lives along with some cool activities and free academic help; (2) college students get the enrichment experience and a great program to put on their resume as a future professional; and (3) this program is a zero-cost to taxpayers and helps to build our communities as it fortifies the foundation of our students to move on to graduation.
As a recent St. Joseph’s College graduate, it has always been a strong belief of mine that to whom much is given, much is expected, and one thing I’ve learned being active in the community: Money doesn’t solve problems, people do.
I highly encourage any college aged students who are interested in getting involved to take up this challenge with us! We are currently seeking summer volunteers. Even if you are only able to give an hour of two a week, please join us in this mission.
For more details or to sign up, please visit www.teamprogram.org For questions, or to get involved on our board of advisors, I can be reached by phone at (631) 356-5211 or by email at email@example.com.