“Breakfast with the Superintendent” was held at the Waxahachie ISD administration building Thursday. The purpose of the event was to introduce the WISD and Big Brothers Big Sisters partnership, its success and the need for more volunteers.

WISD has had a mentoring program in place for many years, with Big Brothers of North Texas partnering with it during the last three.

“Currently over 100 students are being served,” Superintendent Tom Collins said, “but hundreds of students still need mentors.”

“Our program is strictly a school-based program, meaning the match is done on school property only during the school day,” said WISD Partners In Education and community education coordinator Melissa Cobb. “Mentors are role models and friends who encourage attendance, positive behavior and grades.”

Cobb indicated about 73 children are waiting for a match - and there are numerous others who could benefit from the program who have not yet completed the referral process.

“In fact, every child can benefit from a mentor,” she said.

Collins welcomed guests to the breakfast event, saying, “One of the greatest gifts a person can give is the gift of themselves.”

Following an invocation led by board president Dr. Joe Langley, Collins gave information about the success of the WISD mentoring program and encouraged all in attendance to consider becoming a mentor.

Collins then introduced Big Brothers of North Texas CEO Charles Pierson, who shared his passion for the program and its significance to those it serves. Pierson also spoke of his personal involvement as a volunteer.

“I am certainly proud to be CEO of such a fine organization,” Pierson said, adding, “but I am prouder still of the fact that I have been a volunteer with the organization for 15 years.”

Prior to his involvement with Big Brothers, Pierson participated in a tutoring program. Early on, though, he said he realized there was a greater need.

“The student I was working with needed more than a tutor, he needed a friend,” Pierson said, saying this led him to create activities similar to that of Big Brothers before he became affiliated with the organization.

Pierson said all volunteers have background checks and complete a thorough screening process.

“In our (BBBS of North Texas) 80-year history, there has never been an incidence of an improper relationship,” Pierson said. “The system is safe and supportive professionally.”

Pierson discussed the program’s numerous benefits to children, as well as the entire community.

“A child in the program is 52 percent less likely to skip school than their at-risk peers. We’re proud of those statistics,” Pierson said. “Seventy percent of all children with a parent in prison will end up in prison. They will follow that pattern.

“Results of a 20-year study following children served by the program show that 80 percent graduate from high school, compared to the national at-large average of 68 percent,” said Pierson, pointing out the national at-large average includes all students, not just those at-risk.

“I have loved being a Big Brother,” said Pierson, telling about a student he mentored 15 years ago who is now a college student and a Big Brother volunteer.

“It’s neat to see him go through that cycle,” Pierson said.

Board secretary and Big Brother volunteer Jim Phillips talked about the assurance he has with the system’s background checks and screening.

“I want to invite you to be young again,” said Phillips, encouraging those in attendance to become volunteers in the program. “That one hour you spend with them each week makes such a difference.

“We as a community, as adults, have dropped the ball here,” Phillips said, stressing there is a great need for more volunteer mentors because of the number of students waiting for mentors.

Big Brothers regional executive director Diana Phillips said she is available to speak to businesses, churches or organizations about Big Brothers, how it works and why it has been so successful.

“I can come out and make a 20-minute presentation,” said Phillips, listing some of the program’s many merits. “It’s a preventative program to reach these kids before they get into trouble.”

At the meeting’s end, guests gathered pamphlets and posters to carry with them back to their places of business and Big Brothers of North Texas vice president of programs Michael O’Teter expressed his satisfaction with the large attendance and the level of excitement at the breakfast meeting.

“This event, all the people, all the interest, highlights how the program and partnership has matured,” O’Teter said.

“We are so grateful to the Waxahachie community,” Cobb said. “They are so supportive of our schools. The partnership we share with our community helps to enrich the lives of our students.”

For more information, contact Diana Phillips at 1-888-887-2447, ext. 228, or dphillips@bbbsnt.org or contact Melissa Cobb at (972) 923-4631, ext. 142, or mcobb@wisd.org.