Pair Education Center and the University of South Carolina Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice are working towards building strong schools with the help of a Colonial Life Strong Schools Grant.
The partnership supports a mentorship program between university students interested in working with at-risk youth and high school students looking for the opportunity their mentors have, that being going to college.
During this 10-week program, mentees meet with their mentors once a week to work on goal setting, life skills, coping skills, conflict resolution and healthy friendships. This semester they added a community service component because to many students in at-risk communities, community service is seen as a punishment rather than a method of lifelong learning and giving.
Another goal for the 10-week program is that Pair students discover the reason behind why doing well in school is important. The hope is to readjust distorted thinking around the belief that college is not a reality for them.
“This semester, I have been able to work with kids in the community who haven’t been as fortunate as I have” said Blake Hill, a senior criminal justice student, “everyone here is from all different walks of life, but they all just want help to be able to learn more and be better.”
Last week, Pair Education Center students traveled to the University of South Carolina campus for the fall closing ceremony. Pair students were able to tour the campus with their mentor before receiving a book of goals that accumulated the work they had done over the ten weeks.
“I’d like to thank Colonial Life for this grant,” said Karen Stevens, a Pair Education Center school counselor, “in our first semester, Pair students demonstrated an appreciation for the college students as they could listen more and understand them better than most adults.”
The program will continue this spring with new USC undergraduate and Pair Education Center high school students.