Jr. and Sr. High At-Risk Students within Poverty: Formation of the Mentor-Mentee Program in Addressing Their Needs
In the Spring of 2015, I was driving toward Southwest Arkansas to my new appointment at Stamps First United Methodist Church. As I was driving further south on Highway 71, I began to notice how poverty-stricken South Arkansas was. Towns that were once the commercial service centers to their communities contained empty store buildings and little economic life. It was then that I knew that the majority of children in South Arkansas were At-Risk children in poverty. I felt a call in my Spirit to help those in need by developing a plan of action to help them in meeting their conditions of life, while at the same time coming up with a program to help teach them how to get out of poverty and become all God created them to be.
I propose that my project examine how the Church today can become more active within the community through evangelism by outreach in the mission field. This Mentor/Mentee program will teach and work with the faith community in ways that will not violate the United States' civil laws or negatively impact those that might be offended or hurt by the Church in the past. Using my former experiences working in public education as a teacher and coach, I will implement a Mentor/Mentee program that I developed and used in my previous charges in relationship with Public Schools. I had great success in bringing the schools, community, and the Church together in a partnership where learning and relationships continue to be built and nurtured. I will do this by looking at the history of Stamps, Arkansas, Lafayette County, and the surrounding area within the School District. While looking at the community's history, I will also look at its culture and context of the Stamps and Lafayette County. I will then give a description of the Mentor/Mentee Program and the problem that I have identified with At-Risk children. From my identification of children's poverty issues, I will state my central theological position concerning relationship building. Relationship building will be based on the relationship with God and with others in the community. From these relationships, I will discuss the role of the mission and ministry of the Church. In this role, I will begin to understand Elders and Licensed Pastors' responsibilities and duties as an outreach ministry to others as Mentors.
In this paper, I will also discuss the development of the Mentor/Mentee Program. I will do this by looking at who to invite to be a part of the program. I will also look at questions one should ask those involved and how to go about implementing the program. During the discussion and training of those involved in the program, I will define terms and goals for learning during the meetings. These terms will consist of defining poverty, both generational and situational. It will also bring in definitions of Generation Y and Z. The discussion will include the explanation of the policies and procedures for the school, mentors, and students. During the description of the policies and procedures, all individuals will have an understanding of reporting, proper behavior, and authority within the program. I will include an example of these policies and procedures for examination.
During this project, I will include my observations that I have taken from the meetings that occurred and the responses I have received from those involved. I will provide comments on the interaction and discussion between the students, mentors, school administration, and church members. The observations gathered from the discussions will give insight into an overall view of the learning, communication, and relationship building during the program's duration.
Finally, I will bring a thought of the conclusion to the program. Through my observations and research, I will determine if the program is a success or a failure. I will also review what was great about the experience and what we might have done differently to make it work better. I will discuss a possible future outlook on what will occur in the lives of the students, mentors, school, community, and Stamps First United Methodist Church. I will also leave some personal thoughts from my experience during the program. I will state how its development and conclusion affected me and how it will affect my future ministries. I will close with some of the program forms we developed during the project. These forms may help those in mission ministry and those wanting to help others in need.
My goal is that this Mentor/Mentee program will help students, adults, and teachers at Lafayette County Public Schools and bring those in our Church and the community a better place to live and work. Through the project, Stamps First United Methodist Church and I will work within the Lafayette County School District to set up the Mentor/Mentee program. The program will be a form of outreach that will involve the local school system, business, and government. The involvement of these groups is to increase the participation of those who might not be in Church with active parts of a faith community.
I hope that others can use the Mentor/Mentee program in their context of church ministry, culture, and within public and private educational systems to help children at risk in poverty situations not just in the United States but around the world. In this hope, as a missional outreach to At-risk children in poverty, this program can bring hope to those with little or no poverty. Also, to build and nurture relationships within the community. And finally, to help what is called Generation Z, our future, our children of today.
This hope and heart for missional outreach to At-risk children in poverty comes from the example of my parents John E. and Judy J. Noggle. Both grew up in poverty, but with the help of Almighty God, hard work, and those around them that built them up, they were able to rise out of poverty and help those in need, especially children. Now, my inspiration to help comes from my wife, Penny L. Noggle, who also has come from an At-risk childhood in poverty. Penny has risen to become a professional in the Health Care Industry. Penny is respected within the community in which she is a part of here in Stamps. She is also looked up to by others in her Christian faith as she helps others become all God has for them in their lives. In memory of my mother and honor to my wife and family, I write this Mentor/Mentee program so that other children who grow up as At-risk children in poverty can become all God has created them to be and help build a better world for us all.