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In-school mentorship pilot programs in the works in Indiana

Pilot program creates mentorship between students and older Hoosiers

David Williams | News 8 at 5

NOBLESVILLE (WISH) — Your child could get a new mentor in school. A new pilot program is in the works that creates a mentorship between students and older Hoosiers.

Mike Pusateri, of Westfield, volunteers where he can during his retirement.

“I think the things folks like myself can bring to the table is just kind of this life-experience conversation. ‘What have you been through in your life?’” Pusateri explained Wednesday.

That life-experience conversation is why he wants to volunteer with the new senior-youth mentor pilot program birthed from a new state law. To pass down some real-world knowledge.

“We have all lived that. I think we have an opportunity to kind of share that with these young folks and let them know what kind of experiences may be out there,” Pusateri explained.

Republican State Rep. Chuck Goodrich created the new law, called the School Intergenerational Safety Pilot project. Three chosen public school districts will each get a $75,000 grant to start the program.

The program will have up to 16 volunteers who are at least 55 years old and have passed criminal background checks.

The goal of the program is to have the volunteers do things like mentor troubled youth, report threats to staff or students, or even patrol the school.

“It’s about providing mentorships to our children,” State Rep. Chuck Goodrich, a Republican from Noblesville explained Wednesday. “About having a different relationship than with a parent or the teacher. This is someone maybe when they see something odd in the school, they can either report it, they can talk to the kid, they can see what’s going on.”

The new program is being created in an effort to prevent shootings, like the one at Noblesville West Middle school in 2018, or tragedies like the ones over the weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

“The idea of this bill is to give kids an out or hope,” Goodrich explained. “Someone that says you know what? ‘I think this child needs a little help.’”

Pusateri’s ready to step into that role.

“Just be a real person.” he explained.

Goodrich said the Department of Education will choose three school districts by Aug. 23, 2019. He said the hope is to take applications for volunteers in the coming months.

School districts interested in participating in the pilot program should submit their letters of interest to the Indiana Department of Education by Aug. 15, 2019. Schools will then receive an application for the new program, with selections finalized by Aug. 23.

To learn more about the program, or for an interest letter template along with contact information, click here.