You’ve Been “Friended”

Posted by Paula Paine on February 9, 2011 in education, "The College"

Kylie Covey remembers sitting in her Introduction to Teaching class and hearing about an opportunity to be a Youth Friend. Four years and two students later, she is still volunteering. She says, “Obviously, I’ve been hooked, and I wouldn’t change the experience for anything.”

Covey is one of several education students from The College participating in the nationally recognized Youth Friends school mentoring program. A struggling young person is paired with a volunteer who comes to the classroom once a week, usually to help that student with a subject that is difficult.

That classroom recruiter was Becky Nevergold ’75, coordinator of the program at USD 290 in Ottawa. She comes on campus at the invitation of the OU™ Education Department. “It is mutually beneficial for college students, especially in education, to have an opportunity to work with students one on one. They get a perspective on what students are dealing with today,” says Nevergold.

“Students watch the door on Youth Friend days,” says Nevergold. “And kids love college students!” Behavior and grades improve when students work with a volunteer, and their confidence is boosted as they find greater success.

Covey’s first student was very resistant to her and even made fun of her, even though she was motivated to be a positive, Christian influence in her student’s life. “But I knew that by being her friend, even if she wouldn’t admit it, I was helping her in some way.” Over time, she saw progress, though her student never gave her any credit.

This year she is matched with a young girl who looks forward to their visits. “I’m excited to see the personal progress within my friend and for all the ways the Lord can work through me this year.”

Youth Friends can be summed up this way. “Ultimately, it’s just a chance to be a positive influence for a child who needs some extra attention and love,” says Covey. “I think we all have a little extra love out there. Why not put it on a child who can use it and thrive from it?”