While some students dread the end of summer, there's a group of kids who can't wait for school to start. "The little brothers and little sisters in our school mentoring programs are enthusiastic to start another year of Bigs in Schools," said Michelle Hedrich, executive director of Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters (RBBBS). "They've waited all summer to see their mentors again, and they're excited to reconnect."
Bigs in Schools
The Bigs in Schools program provides weekly in-school meetings at the end of the school day. Big Brother Kevin Tertocha and Little Brother Tyriq enjoy playing sports and board games, especially chess.
"Tyriq is a beast at chess!" Tertocha said. "He's part of the chess club at school, and he gives me a run for my money. We also play basketball and football when we're feeling a little sporty, and we talk about what's going on in his life and how everything is going."
Tertocha chose Big Brothers Big Sisters because he wanted to try to make a difference in the life of a child. "I wanted to be a friend and a confidant for someone who might not have the benefit of having those things in their daily life," said the University of Mary Washington student studying to be a teacher."
Teachers See the Difference
Teachers, in fact, are the biggest supporters of Bigs in the Schools, Hedrich said.
A recent poll of 56 State Teachers of the Year identified "family stress" as the biggest barrier to academic success. "Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children with mentors who help them cope with the adversity in their lives," she said.
"Teachers report students return from their time with their Bigs smiling, filled with confidence, ready to learn and eager to succeed."
Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters currently partners with seven schools, providing mentors for about 50 children. Guidance counselors help identify students who would benefit from the presence of a positive mentor in their life, and that helps RBBBS reach kids who can benefit most from the program.
More Men Needed
Tertocha encourages everyone to volunteer. "Everyone has the opportunity to make an impact in a child's life, and that's the best feeling of all," he said. He hopes more men will become involved. "There are so few men in the program, and they are really important. Some of these boys need a good, positive, male influence. It's so much fun and it's such a great experience."
Life is busy and it's hard to find time, Tertocha acknowledged, but starting a friendship, providing guidance and inspiring a child to reach their potential is always worth the effort.
To learn more about volunteering, visit the Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters website at www.rbbbs.org or call 540-371-7444.
Read the previous stories in this yearlong series by Susan Larson on Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters.
"Building Relationships, One Hour at a Time" – July 2015
"A Common Interest In Sports is Key to This Big, Little Team" – June 2015
"Mentors for Children in Military Families" – May 2015
"Big Brothers, Big Sisters Mentoring Relationships are Changing Lives (Part II)" – April 2015
"Mentoring Relationships are Changing Lives" – March 2015
"Giving and Receiving Through Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters" – February 2015
Susan Larson is the publisher of Fredericksburg Today online news, a contributing writer for Fredericksburg Parent and Family magazine and a freelance writer and social media consultant.