Mentoring program gets OK from Morgan County

PASS pairs adult volunteers with students in need

PASS pairs adult volunteers with students in need

February 19, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Morgan County government officials adopted a new policy recently that allows its employees to take an hour during the work week to participate as a PASS volunteer.

PASS (Providing Academic and Self-Esteem Support) is a program that pairs adult volunteers, one-on-one, with students who need academic or self-esteem support.

Karen Whisner, coordinator for the PASS program for Morgan County Schools, met with the Morgan County Commission to get their support for more volunteers.

Three employees have signed up to become PASS volunteers since she met with county officials on Feb. 7, Whisner said.

Commissioner Brenda J. Hutchinson, who invited Whisner to speak to the commission, is a volunteer assigned to Pleasant View Elementary School, Whisner said.


The PASS volunteers meet with their assigned student once a week for at least a half-hour, she said.

About 65 volunteers countywide are in the program, and more volunteers are needed, especially at the high school, she said.

Whisner estimated about 100 volunteers are needed at Berkeley Springs High School, 20 at Warm Springs Middle School, 12 at Warm Springs Intermediate School and 11 at Widmyer Elementary School.

"The smaller schools are not in that bad of shape," she said.

Paw Paw (W.Va.) Schools do not have a PASS program, Whisner said.

The focus is on academics - such as math, reading or what is determined by the teachers - organizational skills and mentoring to improve self-esteem.

She said the mentoring program is flexible, and the school coordinator will work with the volunteer to schedule the best time and match the best situation for the student and the volunteer.

Whisner said the "utopia" is to stay with a child through the entire school career.

Barbara Miller is the principal of Greenwood Elementary School and was a fourth-grade teacher at Widmyer Elementary School.

"I've seen its success through a teacher's eyes and as an administrator. I wholeheartedly believe in it," Miller said.

Miller said many volunteers have told her they came in hoping to give to the child, but went away taking something in return by giving of themselves.

"It takes a team of caring individuals to support every child to prepare them to become productive adults, and the PASS program is so successful that former PASS students are now volunteers themselves," Whisner said.

A two-hour training session and a criminal background check is required, Whisner said.

"I was really pleased that everyone has responded favorably for this program," said Hutchinson.

Whisner said anyone who cares about children can be a PASS volunteer, including business executives, grandparents and senior citizens.

For more information, call Whisner at 304-258-2024.

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