Roland Park Civic League, public school collaborate on mentoring program

When Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts addressed the Roland Park Civic League last May at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, he urged members of "a sophisticated community" to find ways of using their skills and expertise to help "save Baltimore as a whole."

"We are Baltimore," he said.

Now, the public school and the Roland Park Civic League are taking Batts' advice to heart. They are collaborating on a new mentoring program to help middle school students from outside Roland Park adjust to a school in an unfamiliar area.

"I think it gives someone who's not from here a better link to the community," Kurt Overton, a civic league member and Roland Park Elementary/Middle parent, told the civic league Oct. 3 in a report about the new Middle School Mentoring Program.

"We're trying to serve a population that's new to the area," said Principal Nicholas D'Ambrosio.

The league and the school administration are now seeking volunteers to serve as mentors and role models for the program, which will start in mid-October, with 10 to 20 students.

The mentoring program will be led by Assistant Principal Dan Hellerbach, who previously led a mentoring group for boys that focused on leadership and character., D'Ambrosio said. .

The league and the school will hold an information and orientation session at the school, 5207 Roland Ave., on Oct. 10 at 4 p.m.

The program will consist of two one-hour, one-on-one sessions with students per month, during school days, plus group sessions four times a year.

About half of the school's 1,350 students are in middle school, and half of the middle-schoolers are in specialized academic programs, including Ingenuity and Advanced Academics. Middle school students also come from Medfield Elementary, a feeder school for Roland Park Elementary/Middle, D'Ambrosio said.

The mentoring program is aimed at students who are exhibiting academic or behavior problems and who are believed be having difficulty adjusting.

"There are some students who have difficulty making the transition into a middle school that has higher academic expectations and isn't around the corner," D'Ambrosio said.

The mentoring program is also beneficial as a way for the school and the civic league to work together more closely.

"We do want to build a stronger relationship between the civic league and the school," D'Ambrosio said.

He credits Batts' speech last spring and the civic league's use of the school auditorium as a catalyst for the new mentoring project.

"That's how this started," he said.

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