SAN ANTONIO — It's Meet the Parents night at John Jay High School, and a group of KENS 5 team members is about to meet the families of the students they've been mentoring.
It's a special time to put faces to names and share some common experiences. This time, they play bingo and pose for pictures.
"As a mentor, it gives you the best feeling," KENS 5's Barry Davis said. "I make my living with words, but I can't describe how it makes you feel, working with these kids once a month."
Every month for the past three years, since these students were freshmen, the KENS 5 group met the teens for lunch and an activity, and most importantly, they've let these students know that we care about them and their success.
"We learned how to tie a tie," Barry said. "Some of these kids had never had a tie and at the end, we gave them the tie."
One of the students working with Barry called it a highlight of his time at John Jay.
"It's been my favorite experience in high school. It's taught me a lot," Serggio Garza Jr. said.
"To watch this kid open up... truly it's that bud of a flower, he was truly introverted. Now he laughs, he smiles. He's so smart. It's amazing," Barry said.
Now all of our students are finishing their junior year, and they know we expect every one of them to graduate. Whether we're showing them the station or volunteering at the Food Bank, every month, we talk and listen.
KENS 5's Sarah Forgany is a mentor to Samantha Camales Jr.
"We talk about friends, family, school, graduation, your future, her career, to hopefully to have inspired you just a little bit," Sarah said.
It's working. "When I'm like, stuck in a problem, I think, 'What would Sarah do?'" Samantha said. "She would figure out what's the problem, what she's going to do and when she's going to do it."
John Jay High School principal Jay Sumpter notices the positive effect of the mentorship program.
"A caring adult in a student's life makes all the difference... that somebody sees them and cares about them enough to spend time with them," he said.
Sarah Forgany added: "If you can be a mentor to any child, do it. It is so worth it. Not just for that child, but for you."
For more information about how you and your co-workers can get involved with the Communities in Schools program, go to https://www.cissa.org.