A University of Dayton group, College Mentors for Kids, strives to provide academic help to elementary students of the Miami Valley through a mentorship program.
College Mentors for Kids is an organization that assists second, third, fourth and fifth grade students from River’s Edge Montessori and Dayton Boys Preparatory Academy by stressing the importance of education.
UD chapter founder and president Brittany Fritsch said that on Tuesdays, 25 students from River’s Edge come onto campus from 4:15- 6:15 p.m., where they have their UD mentors help them understand the importance of self-reliance, self-confidence, taking initiative at school and making wise academic and social choices. On Wednesdays, 25 students from Dayton Boys Preparatory arrive on campus for similar guidance.
“Each weekly activity focuses on one of three main areas of development, including higher education and career, community service, and culture and diversity,” Fritsch said. “However, we are always trying to encourage the kids about college and the opportunities that open up as a result.”
Fritsch said that UD has had an impact in the lives of the mentors who want to give back to the community and encourage enthusiasm in today’s youth.
“Our program shows just how much UD cares about its community and future students,” Fritsch said. “College Mentors for Kids clearly embodies the Marianist spirit and the idea of ‘Learn, Lead, and Serve.’”
According to Fritsch, when the chapter was founded a year ago, the organization had only 20 UD students involved for the first semester. However, the next semester the organization gained 16 more UD students and the program has been expanding ever since.
“This semester, we have doubled our numbers from last year, and we now have 98 UD students involved, participating on a weekly basis,” Fritsch said.
College Mentors for Kids member and sophomore early childhood education major Chris Pyle said he is involved because he loves working with kids and wants to be a positive influence in their lives.
“Some of these kids come from troubled families or lives, and I just want to be that person who guides them towards a bright future and a good education,” Pyle said.
Pyle said he is also the activities director of the club. His duties for this include planning out and organizing the different activities that the kids are involved with each week.
“I enjoy knowing the different backgrounds of the kids because they might come from troubled backgrounds, but they still remain cheerful and optimistic about possibly going to college someday,” Pyle said. “I also enjoy watching the club grow with more students, mentors and kids than last year because it shows that there are people out there who want to make a difference in the kids’ lives.”
UD physics professor and College Mentors for Kids faculty adviser Said Elhamri said that he was got involved with the organization because of Fritsch, who was a student of his.
“I knew that I had to be part of this because it’s a great opportunity for the UD students participating in the program and even greater opportunity for the small kids we are reaching out to,” he said. “I can assure you that an enormous amount of work had to be done to get this chapter going at UD and a lot of students helped, but I would like to recognize Brittany and her leadership team for successfully pulling this off.”
Elhamri said that last year he presented the elementary school kids with a science lesson. He said that the kids had so much energy and curiosity that he could hardly keep up with them.
“At the end of that session, one of the children on the way out, he stopped, looked up at me and said, ‘Hey man, see you when I am 18,’” Elhamri said. “For me, this is an opportunity to join with some of the best students at UD to help some of the smallest members of the community-kids! It’s a teacher’s dream!”
Fritsch said College Mentors for Kids is currently accepting applications for next semester. If a UD student would like to get involved, Fritsch said they would need to get a background check, interview and an online training program if selected.
“I truly believe that children are inspirational, but they also need inspiration,” Fritsch said. “For a majority of these kids, they could be the first in their families to go to college. Every week, we get to know more about these kids and their families, and it becomes even more apparent to me how important it is for these kids to have strong role models. There is true value in having a role model in your life.”