The campus introduced the pilot program in the 2019 – 2020 school year. Since it served as an extra resource for students to collaborate with real-life mentors. Weekly visits occurred on campus with the firefighters before COVID-19 closed schools where tutoring and guidance was the main topic.
In the last year, the program has evolved to a whole new unique and supportive level. Fourteen firefighters have committed to continuing their mentorship roles through pandemic and remote learning. They engage with emotional support, access resources and gather donations for Avondale Elementary School District families battling hardships.
“You always hear the term, it takes a village to raise a child, and in this case, we have another agency wrapping their arms around our kids and helping us raise them,” says Lillian Linn, principal at Avondale Middle School.
Linn was responsible for creating the collaboration between first responders and the school. Firefighters continue to support their mentees by sitting down with each child via in-home visits, Zoom sessions, and in-person meetings.
“Seeing the joy that they are not expecting that kind of help really makes you feel good and like you are doing something meaningful for someone who needs it,” says Battalion Chief, Dave Wagner.
Through the collaboration and its groundbreaking success, additional schools at AESD are implementing similar programs with fire and police departments to connect children to mentors in their communities.