North Little Rock School District seeks community mentors as violence and loss of learning increase


NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In the North Little Rock School District, data shows an increase in violence and learning losses among its students.

The district says positive role models are needed more than ever, as they have seen an increase in behavior problems and a decline in academic performance.

And the numbers show that kids as young as Grades 6 and 7 are getting involved in gang activity, and more high school students are using drugs.

But here’s the good news: In less than a month, 260 people from the community have come forward to say they want to help.

With enrollments declining, with most children living in poverty and raised in single parent families, the NLRSD knows it has a tough road ahead.

“And we know we need the community to come and help us,” said Crystal Barker, Coordinator of Parent and Family Community Engagement at NLRSD.

And they are determined to do something about it.

“A positive relationship can change a child’s life,” Barker said.

This is where the district’s adult-youth mentorship program comes in.

“It’s been a long way because I think the community and the people are seeing, you know what? Let me be part of the solution, ”said Barker.

In less than a month, 260 people like Joey Piwetz have signed up to help make a difference.

“The community cares and the community wants to see a change,” Piwetz said.

He wants to help because he thinks there aren’t enough male role models for children in the NLRSD.

“I think it’s very crucial for their development and for the men,” Piwetz said. “It’s very difficult to become a man if you are not educated by a man. “

“We see more of our discipline issues in our men,” Barker said.

And with 8,000 students in the district, Barker said they would take every mentor they can.

“If I had my wishes, every student would have a mentor,” she said. “We are looking for more. More more more. More the merrier, the merrier.”

The district will be launching a Dads on Duty chapter very soon and is encouraging all men, not just fathers, to help.

They will also be launching Moms on a Mission.

If you would like to be a part of this growing movement, call Crystal Barker at 501-771-8013 or email her at [email protected]

About Bradley J. Bridges

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