The New York State Mentoring Program is getting a boost from the governor's mother. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says Matilda Cuomo is working to expand the program across the state for students.
“It’s Telemachus, who had to go off to the Trojan War and leave his beloved son Telemachus in the hands of his mentor,” explained Mrs. Cuomo.
Matilda Cuomo is the wife of the former and late Governor Mario Cuomo. In 1984 she created the school-based mentoring program for students. Mrs. Cuomo is a former teacher.
In 2015 the governor stepped up the state's commitment to the program. It now works with the private sector and non-profits to find mentors and businesses to work with students.
The program brings in screened and trained volunteer mentors and matches them with students.
“Schools are, to say failing, struggling – the principals and the teachers can do so much and the fact is that the parents can do so much, because they too are strapped and there’s somebody out there who can be trained to take the place for that child – that niche that the child needs,” remarked Cuomo.
Mrs. Cuomo noted mentors provide a role model for students. She reflected on her own past experience as a mentor.
“Ely Delgado – she’s quite a young lady now, but she was just about 13-years-old and I want to tell you she wanted to go back to Puerto Rico. I had to convince her its better here and she did, she listened and slowly she started to smile. She was always smirking and very angry, but she changed. It took time,” replied Cuomo.
“Ely now, does all the billing for the doctors at Albany Medical Center. That’s how much better she did. She’s made a little fortune for herself and she is quite accomplished. She has two children, married two children, she’s having her third," Cuomo said.
The expansion of the mentoring program now offers a new honors program. The peer-to-peer model pairs a high school senior an incoming freshman.
“This will bring great results because they look up this high school student. They look so grown up to them,” remarked Cuomo. “Did you ever thing public education would be faced with so many difficulties and do you see it coming back and strengthening itself?” asked Buckley. “Well and it shouldn’t have been that way, by the way. It did happen and it can be better and it will be better,” responded Mrs. Cuomo.
Cuomo tells us the mentoring program is a big help for teachers as well.
“I meet so many principals, I tell you the truth, they are wonderful and they are very giving. They give more than their time during the day. It’s a wonderful thing we should remember that these principals and superintendents, they’re working very hard,” said Cuomo.
Cuomo says there are more than 200 mentors in the Buffalo area
The mentoring program provides another important tool in steering students toward high school graduation. Mrs. Cuomo pointed out the “need is greater” than ever to provide guidance to students across the state.