Anna ISD kicked off its Coyote Call Mentor Program at Anna Middle School on Oct. 17 with program director Jim Rountree conducted the initial meet-and-greet.

"Basically, what we do here in the first meeting is two things: introduce the student to the mentor and we try to find a common area of interest. From there they set a next meeting date and it’s up to the mentors to get out there and try to build a relationship and for some that can be challenging," explained Rountree. "The mentors send me regular emails every time they meet with their students updating me on their progress. Usually within six months a positive difference is noticeable."

With the advent of the social networking revolution, many unprecedented problems have affected school-aged children of America. One of the mentor program’s central goals is to help guide the students through one of the most difficult times in the life of any child.

"What we want to do is get the student to open up and make healthy choices with their life, to stay away from alcohol, drug use and other issues that we have today like problems that arise from internet and social media," said Rountree.

The program will mark its tenth year in the spring, and more mentors are needed to meet the demands of the students. The mentors are composed of volunteers from the community who donate their time and effort to help guide and morally support their student partners. The process can be difficult, but those who have participated in the program in the past few years have found it to be a rewarding effort.

Among the volunteer mentors is parent and Anna City Council member Lauren Lovato,

"I heard about this program about a year and half ago when I saw an advertisement for the Coyote Call Mentor Program in the newspaper," said Lovato. "I think this program really reaches out to the kids, it shows them that someone outside their personal circle really does care about them and their future. There are many mentors in this program that have been with their partners for several years and have had a chance to develop long lasting relationships with them and really make an impact on their lives."

Much like the Big Brothers and Sisters of America and peer mediation initiatives such as PALS, the mentor program is designed to affect positive change in the lives of the students from all walks of life. The mentor program itself is open to any and all students regardless of their situation. Most of the mentors have previous experience in similar programs and would like to see more mentors actively participating in making a positive difference in the lives of their student partners.

Lovato spoke of her previous experience and hopes for the program’s future. "Growing up, I was involved in several peer mediation programs, and I encourage my own children to lead by example," she said. "This year I was assigned a new partner and my goal is to help guide her in the right direction by giving her the tools and resources that can help her to make good choices for the future. I would like to see this program grow into a community wide organization and be acknowledged by the entire city.

"I would also like to see some of the children who are now involved in this program turn around and eventually become mentors themselves. I think more and more people are getting involved in community wide programs in Anna, and I foresee this one as becoming one of the staples of our community."