By Kristin Clark
Rome Observer Staff Writer

ROME, NY — This fall, the Rome City School District will be partnering with Mentoring USA to help elementary school-aged children who are struggling in school. The district is looking for volunteers to help mentor the students.

Mentoring USA is a national organization that was founded by former New York First Lady Matilda Raffa Cuomo to help children achieve their full potential, particularly those students who experience educational difficulties or social challenges.

Frank Di Berardino, director of the National Bellamy Award Organization said that the amount of volunteers they will need for the program depends on the number of students in the program.

Berardino brought the idea to the school board after attending a conference in Italy last year at which Cuomo was speaking.

Superintendent of schools Jeffrey Simons said once volunteer mentors have been recruited and trained by Mentoring USA, the school district will select fourth-graders to participate in the program during the 2013-14 academic year. He noted the program will place special emphasis on anti-bullying education and awareness.

Jason P. Evangelist, assistant superintendent for teaching, learning and accountability, will oversee the implementation of the mentoring program. Evangelist has been meeting with elementary school principals to determine the criteria for student participation in the mentoring program.

“We are just going to focus on one school for this year and see how it goes and look into expanding next year,” Berardino said.

There will be training and orientation sessions for anyone who would like to become a mentor starting on Oct. 22.

For further information, or to receive a Mentoring USA application form, contact Evangelist, at 315-338-6512, or Di Berardino at 315-337-4721, by Tuesday, Oct. 15.