Jun 11 2012 11:59PM
PARKERSBURG - The Education Alliance is working to expand its two-year-old e-mentoring program into the Parkersburg area after a successful beginning in Kanawha County.
On Monday, the Parkersburg Rotary Club heard about the program, which connects businessmen and community members with students seeking information and input about potential careers and college options.
Jessica Wintz, of Charleston, is the West Virginia E-Mentoring Program director with the Education Alliance. The program is an online e-mentoring for West Virginia high school students to log on once a week for 30 minutes to explore post-secondary options.
Wintz told the Rotarians one of the important components of the program is that students choose a mentor and correspond with him or her by email for 10 weeks. The program has built-in safeguards to keep mentors and students safe, with both using only first names and last initials.
There is a prohibition against exchanging email addresses or phone numbers except through program officials.
"They can ask that mentor questions about post-secondary options, career options and basically discover what their options are after high school," Wintz said.
This is the second full year for the program, which began in the Kanawha County region and is hoping to expand throughout the state in the future. During that first year, the e-mentoring program served 14 counties and 500-700 students.
"We're really excited that we're going to be serving approximately 4,000 students, so we're in desperate need for mentors across the state," she said.
Wintz said groups like Rotary are perfect places to find mentors for the e-mentoring program, since members include people from all walks of life, something the program needs.
Greg Smith, a member of Parkersburg Rotary and incoming district governor for Rotary International 7530, serves on the Education Alliance Board of Directors and believes the program is a positive one for students and mentors. He supports the e-mentoring program and is hoping to encourage Rotary clubs throughout the district to participate in the program through their members.
More information is available through www.wvementoring.org.