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K-State Today

April 23, 2012

Certified excellence: University Youth Mentoring Program earns gold star status from Kansas mentors

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

When it comes to academic mentoring of area youth, a program offered by Kansas State University's School of Leadership Studies is proving it's a golden opportunity.

The School of Leadership Studies' academic mentoring program, which is offered through HandsOn K-State, has received Gold Star program certification from Kansas Mentors, the statewide mentoring partnership that promotes mentoring opportunities throughout the state and finds ways to recruit more Kansans to serve as mentors.

Gold Star certification is for programs that are providing mentoring services to youth and that have completed the Gold Star registration process to ensure commitment to quality and effective program practices.

HandsOn K-State selects and trains K-State students for placement in local schools and organizations. Academic mentors work 10 hours per week in Manhattan, Ogden, St. George and Wamego, where they support family literacy efforts and youth programs.

One of the academic mentoring program's goals has been to achieve Gold Star certification, and the organization's focus on developing a mentoring role with the children they work with, rather than just providing help with schoolwork, has helped them achieve this goal, said Amy Gasser, a junior in elementary education, Shawnee, and a student coordinator with the academic mentoring program. Gasser said the certification helps ensure the safety and quality of mentors working with children, and she thinks it will increase the number of K-State students interested in being part of the program.

"Receiving the opportunity to be a part of the Kansas Mentors' Gold Star program is a huge honor," Gasser said. "With this accomplishment we can continue to expand and enhance our program."

The academic mentoring program's excellence also can be measured by a recent honor to the program's other student coordinator, Courtney Weerts, junior in social work from Olathe. Weerts was recently named a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact for her exemplary involvement in civic engagement. Her leadership role with the academic mentoring program was among the reasons she was selected for the award.

Gasser said that the students in the academic mentoring program are the most important reason for its success.

"Without the mentors, none of the things that we have accomplished this year would have happened," she said.

The Kansas Mentors' Gold Star program was created to provide a safe and effective mentoring environment for the youth of Kansas. The program recognizes mentoring partners across the state who have committed to maintaining a basic set of standards to ensure a quality mentoring experience. It was developed by Kansas Mentors and its Council of Mentors based on nationally recognized standards. More information is available at http://kansasmentors.org.