Port Arthur ISD asking for men to volunteer for mentoring program

Published 12:32 am Thursday, December 9, 2021

Port Arthur Independent School District is looking for some father figures willing to volunteer their time in support of the students.

Pops P.A.T.R.O.L.S., or Presently Available To Redirect, Often encourage & Listen to Students, is a district-wide organization bringing father figures together to volunteer their time and energy to support the students by “engaging in motivational conversations before school, during transitions and after school,” according to information from PAISD.

The district placed the announcement seeking volunteers on their Facebook page Friday, and as of Wednesday they only had one person submit a form showing interest, Adrienne Lott, communications specialist said.

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Superintendent Mark Porterie said the Pops Patrols is a way in which the district can generate more support for the children while in classrooms.

“Children across the country are in need of support to not only face the challenges of our current culture but just facing the challenges of growing up and becoming an adult in the current year,” Porterie said.  “Somehow our children have to be relieved of some of the mental stresses that they are dealing with such as COVID, not understanding how to control anger, absence of a stable family life, and hunger.”

Porterie said most of the challenges they are faced with are out of their control and there is no one for them to express their feelings to. He hopes a community of men will emerge and try to help the young people in an effort to strengthen the future of the community.

Lott isn’t sure why the interest is low, especially since the idea came from comments from parents.

The district put out a letter to parents in October addressing fights and saying the district may seek criminal charges against students ages 14 and older that choose to engage in fights, the letter read.

Porterie said the letter was a reminder of the possible penalties for fighting and was not anything new.

But the district received some negativity on the issue and was asked why it would incarcerate children. Porterie said that was not the intent.

A possible solution was mentioned by a parent who suggested using a program like in Shreveport, Louisiana called Dad’s on Duty.

Lott said there is a similar program in schools in California that is successful.

But the program can’t be implemented if the district does not have the men fulfilling the roles.

Lott said she hopes to get the program started in the spring semester and that starts with the application process.

Applicants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and pass a background check. They must also complete the appropriate and necessary training for the program prior to serving the schools in this capacity, according to the district.

Volunteers will be assigned shifts, dates and locations to show up and support the students as an additional presence of caring adults with a sincere interest in increasing student attendance and decreasing disruptive behavior.

For information on how to apply or about the program, call 409-989-6100.