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Bennett Belles facilitate Wonder Girls Mentorship Program at Alderman Elementary School

Since last year, Tyler Binion from Bennet College has been working in partnership with Deanna Barnes (5th Grade Teacher) and Charity Woods (School Counselor) at Alderman Elementary School to facilitate a mentorship/community service project called "The Wonder Girls Mentorship Program."

Bennet College is one of the black colleges supported by the Black College Fund which provides financial support to maintain solid, challenging academic programs; strong faculties; and well-equipped facilities.

"The program has been absolutely amazing and life-changing," said Binion, a junior business administration major from Nashville, Tennessee. "Bennett mentors have helped influence the lives of many fifth grade girls at Alderman Elementary, as well as other Alderman students in various grades who we've connected with."

"The mentors have had an opportunity to gain community service hours and host monthly sessions for the fifth grade girls on college readiness, self-esteem and Bennett College," Binion said. "The fifth grade girls are truly enamored with all things Bennett, and some have even vowed that Bennett is their college of choice when they graduate from high school. I really hope the Bennett community will come out to welcome the girls and talk to them about college and the importance of doing well in school. We really want to make their time here on our campus special for them."

Binion recalls the first time she visited Alderman Elementary to talk to Ms. Barnes and Ms. Woods about The Wonder Girls Mentorship Program.

"On our first visit we were warmly welcomed, and students who didn't even know us flocked to us to shake our hands or hug us," she said. "As mentors we have also assisted many teachers in need of help in their classes, with everything from reading and writing assistance to talking to students who are facing challenges. I have had well over 50 Bennett students contact me to serve as mentors in this program, which is out of the norm in regards to our usual participation statistics."

Binion said managing Wonder Girls hasn't always been easy, in part because she and many of the mentors lack transportation.

"Also, we're all busy as college students and our schedules don't necessarily permit ample time for such a big commitment, so it was difficult at times," Binion said. "But we have had several mentors committed to this program, enabling us to visit Alderman Elementary weekly as a group. I have been proud of and impressed with the dedication shown by my fellow Bennett Belles!"

Charity Woods, School Counselor at Alderman, said she's grateful for the partnership with Bennett College and has been pleased with the work of Binion and other Belles. "Tyler helped to organize several mentors for our young ladies. These beautiful Bennett women are having a positive impact on not only our 5th grade girls, but also our whole school. Through this process she and all of the Bennett mentors have been professional and a joy to have working with our students," says Woods.

Laurie D. Willis, Bennett College website

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Black College Fund provides financial support to maintain solid, challenging academic programs; strong faculties; and well-equipped facilities at 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Black College Fund apportionment at 100 percent.

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