A group of Smitha Middle School students are discovering the joys of “the beautiful game,” with the help from some positive role models and their speech language therapist. The idea was the brain child of Ms. Henley Slepyan, who observed a lack of strong male role models in the lives of the boys she works with on a weekly basis. She asked her students if they would be interested in connecting with mentors and form a Smitha Middle soccer team – they were unanimous in their excitement for the idea. The group returned their signed parent permission forms the next day!
Ms. Slepyan approached the men at her church, recruiting mentors for her Smitha students. She worked with Cobb Mentoring Matters (CMM) to screen the volunteers through the program’s school-based mentorship program. With the blessing of principal Clint Terza, CMM conducted an orientation and training session at Smitha April 3. Within a week, all volunteers were cleared to help kickoff the soccer team and mentor program.
The group met for the first time on Friday, April 19, with students eager to play, learn and have fun. The team plans to stay after school each Friday for the rest of the year to connect with their mentors and build teamwork. The Smitha team hopes to serve as a template for other schools to launch their own mentorship groups around activities students are interested in.