Houston, TX

Burbank Elementary launches community partnership program

Jason Martinez

Houston Independent School District/Facebook

HOUSTON — A group of fifth-graders could be seen gathering in the Burbank Elementary School's library. They are flocking there for a mentorship program with KPMG, a leading global firm.

These students are part of the 'Gifted and Talented' program. The program aims to help them set their goals for summer as they move into middle school.

"I want to read more over the summer. That way I can get to sixth grade ready to go," one student said during his session.

The pilot program involved a two-hour virtual session with mentors from KPMG, attended by 28 students from five schools across Houston. The program focused on areas like leadership, mathematics, and technology.

"Here at Burbank Elementary, we are really looking to nurture the whole child. It's not just simply about doing great on test scores, it's about maximizing each child's potential in a unique way. When the GT department reached out to us about this mentoring program, I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for students to match their skill set to real-world applications," said Heather Luebbers, principal of Burbank Elementary School.

The sessions are divided into two visits. According to Advanced Academics Specialist Kimberly Lewis, the first one focuses on creating a bond between mentors and students, also between students. The second one is centered on goal-setting, especially for students to prepare for middle school.

Lewis gave the mentors a skeleton curriculum, allowing mentors to make a complete one of their own. They may include videos, stories, or anything that will help the mentors deliver the message to students.

Parents, teachers, students, and mentors will then be given a chance to give feedback. The school will then make adjustments so it can launch the program fully in the fall.

If the final program is proven successful, other schools and grades may join, and professionals from different fields would be hired to match the students' interests.

"I believe that since they are still young, they have so many skills that haven't been brought to light. They might go on about their life not fully considering their strengths. I feel that when they have a mentoring program, they start using their skills and believe in their potential," said Andrea Macias, Interventionist at Burbank Elementary.

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