, Port Arthur, Texas

March 19, 2014

Pastors, district to hold PAISD parent involvement lunch

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — The Rev. Darrell Anderson firmly believes that it takes a man to raise a man.

“I’m not taking anything away from what Mom did, because my grandma did a wonderful job raising me,” Anderson, assistant pastor at Rock Island Missionary Baptist Church in Port Arthur, said. “But there are certain things men deal with that women don't have to deal with.”

Anderson and his fellow members of the Port Arthur Ministers’ Conference have taken it upon themselves to be those men. Today, at 11:30 a.m., they will explain the mission of their mentorship program, Project Life Changers, at a parent working lunch at the Port Arthur ISD administration building, 4801 Ninth Ave.

The conference formed Project Life Changers last year, as part of a collaborative effort with Judge Tom Gillam, Justice of the Peace Precinct 8, to reach at-risk middle school and high school boys.

“We initially reached out to those considered at risk that some may have already given up on, simply because a lot of the facilitators have been down that road,” Anderson said. “Someone stepped into our lives and redirected us. That’s the idea behind the program.”

The program has now reached beyond the court system into PAISD. The students are assigned a mentor who will stay with them until graduation. During weekly classes over the 12-week program, they learn social skills, goal setting, anger management skills and career choices.

LaWanda Finney, coordinator of professional development and Title 1 parent involvement, said that the lunch’s objective is to empower parents so that they might be able to help their children in a more meaningful way.

“We already know that we can’t do it by ourselves, so we need the community to step up like these pastors,” she said. “Research has shown that where the parents are involved, those students graduate more and have better conduct. I want parents to come hear the ministers, but for them also to take it as a personal challenge for themselves.”

LaTonya Waters, PAISD at-risk and support services supervisor, said she had seen a remarkable improvement among the students who have worked with the pastors.

“When I walked into the room, they said, ‘Hello, how are you?’ and shook my hand,” Waters said. “That’s something you would think would be expected, but it was behavior that was newly learned for these young men. It was a welcome surprise.”

The primary objective, Anderson said, is to show the public that there is unity among the citizens of Port Arthur.

“People can come together for a good cause and not worry about who gets the credit for it,” he said. “I believe that’s the road that we’re on right now. Everyone is coming together to try to change our city.”


Twitter: @ErinnPA