BRADENTON – More than 60 students and staff members gathered in the courtyard at Martha B. King Middle School in Bradenton, for a group photo last week celebrating goal
|Martha B. King Middle School Mentors and Students|
setting and student achievement. The group is taking part in a school Mentor Program, spearheaded by Emily Buskirk, an elective teacher and coordinator at King Middle.
“We launched this program with help from John Neal Homes at Lincoln Middle School about seven years and it was very successful,” said Buskirk. “Here at King Middle, we started the mentor program three years ago, and each year it has grown,” she said.
School guidance counselors meet with staff to identify students who may benefit from having a mentor. More than 60 students have been chosen or have volunteered for the program, which pairs them with an adult staff member- a teacher, administrator, or other staff memberlike the school resource officer who has three mentees. The mentors offer one on one guidance and support. Students and their mentors meet regularly and the setting is different for each of them, depending on the child’s unique needs. “Some eat lunch together, some listen to music and talk and others play basketball or other sports. It’s whatever that student needs to connect with their mentor. It lets the students know they have somewhere to go, someone to talk to. We have noticed a big difference in the kids,” said Buskirk.
As a team, the mentor and mentee set goals to achieve each quarter with individual incentives depending on each student’s preferences.
John Neal Homes sponsored the program t-shirts, treasure chest items for incentives and a movie pack that will be the raffle prize for students who achieve their quarterly goals. Neal hopes hisinvolvement will encourage others to get interested. “I definitely encourage others to donate to this worthy program,” said Neal. “Small donations make a big difference and this is direct help for students who need it most and need it now,” he said.
“We are so appreciative to John Neal Homes for providing the shirts and prizes. It’s all about setting goals, meeting those goals and positive reinforcement,” said Buskirk.
A mentor herself, Buskirk has seen first hand how the program can make a difference in students’ lives. Eighth grader Diamond Collins is Buskirk’s mentee. “I want to get farther in life and go to college,” said Collins. “Mrs. Buskirk helped me work through some drama in my life and got me to focus on school. She talked me through it and helped me get back on track,” she noted.
The school is looking for additional sponsorships for student incentives including an end of year prize for those who achieve milestones, like a trip to Busch Gardens.
John Neal Homes was the largest custom builder in Lakewood Ranch in 2012 and is currently building in Lakewood Ranch, Legends Bay, The Forest, Riva Isle and on privately owned lots in Bradenton, Venice, Parrish, Siesta Key, and Freeport, Bahamas. The company is completely integrated to benefit its customers, with its engineering and building team, plus PureStyle design services and Waterscapes pools, the fifth largest pool company in the state. Established in 2010, John Neal Homes garners a 99.8% positive customer referral rate and is a testament to the customer service offered by John Neal Homes.
John Neal is a fourth generation builder in the Neal family and under his pioneering leadership, the John Neal Homes team builds on more than four decades of experience. John Neal is a dedicated community advocate andphilanthropist. He sits on several community boards including the Manatee County Red Cross, the State College of Florida, and is an incoming board member of the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce. John also sits on the Environmental Lands Action Committee for Manatee County and continually takes an active role in advocating for and supporting his community.
The company's honors and accolades include Aurora Awards for models in The Country Club at Lakewood Ranch and Country Club East and several Parade of Homes awards from the Home Builder’s Association. John Neal was named as one of the Gulf Coast Business Review’s 40 under 40 in 2011 and a person to watch by Biz941. John Neal Homes is a custom builder that designs homes in planned communities aswell as on your lot. For more information go to www.homesbyjohnneal.com.