The beginning of the 2021-2022 school year is right around the corner, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Ohio has begun preparing for the start of school-based programs.
These programs are offered at select schools in Tuscarawas and Carroll counties, including:
Dover South Elementary School
Dover East Elementary School
Dover Avenue Elementary School
Claymont Intermediate School
Strasburg Elementary and Middle Schools
New Philadelphia West Elementary School
New Philadelphia East Elementary School
New Philadelphia South Elementary School
Tusky Valley Middle School
Newcomerstown West Elementary School
Brown Local Elementary and Middle Schools
Carrollton Bell Herron Middle School
During school-based programs, Bigs – typically high school and college students – meet with Littles at their school at a specified location and time each week. These meetings allow matches to interact and communicate in a setting which is supervised by a Big Brothers Big Sisters’ staff member. Common school-based activities include eating lunch together, working on schoolwork, playing games, and participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters’ curriculum activities. Each month, curriculum activities focus around a social emotional learning topic, including self-management, decision making, relationship skills, optimistic thinking, and goal-directed behavior. At the beginning of each school year, Bigs and Littles develop a youth outcome development plan, where they decide on goals to work on together throughout the school year.
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ staff not only supervise and monitor the program, but also work closely with Bigs and Littles to provide coaching and suggestions to uniquely assist each match with relationship building and goal achievement. Before matches are able to meet, child safety and youth protection training is provided to all participants in the program. All parties are instructed on guidelines and policies they are expected to follow to ensure a safe, successful year of school-based programming.
The program is fun and rewarding to both Bigs and Littles. Littles receive encouragement and support with schoolwork, asset building, socialization, and goal setting, while Bigs receive experience working with children, volunteer requirements for applications and resumes, and the opportunity to impact the life of a child within their school district.
2021-2022 programs will occur in-person at all school districts, with virtual mentoring still being an available option to accommodate all students and their learning requirements. To enroll, Bigs and Littles must submit an application and participate in an interview prior to the start of the program. Interviews with Bigs are done to ensure each volunteer is an appropriate fit for the program and can commit to being a positive role model. Volunteers over the age of 18 must complete a multi-layer background check in addition to an interview. Interviews with Littles are a necessary step in matching children with a Big who meets their specific needs and interests. Before a match is made official, parents and guardians are notified of the match and given the opportunity to provide their approval before matches begin meeting in the program. School-based coordinators keep in contact with parents and guardians throughout the school year and are always available for questions or concerns.
If you are interested in becoming a Big or enrolling your child in one of the school-based programs, you can visit www.bigs4kids.com or call (330) 339-6916.