The Katy ISD KEYS (Keep Encouraging Youth toward Success) mentoring program was piloted in 1995-1996 as a way to help students on the brink of success build achievement through a sense of belonging, self-confidence and ultimately academic growth. KEYS is not a tutoring session, it is an hour outside of the classroom that focuses solely on the belief that a particular student can and will be successful.
“The success of KEYS is based on the power of one – one mentor, one student, one hour per week,” says Martha Brown, Katy ISD Partners in Education.
The Power of One is a motto that the group focuses on to encourage community members to dedicate one small portion of their week to help make a tremendous impact on the life of one student in their community.
Steve Ogier, a KEYS Mentor and Katy resident, first became a mentor eleven years ago at Creech Elementary. Since then, he has mentored five students through five campuses – and even mentored one student from second grade through high school graduation.
“I had no expectations when I first became a mentor,” says Ogier. “It seemed like a good opportunity to make a contribution and occupy my retirement years.”
The relationship between a mentor and mentee often grows on its own and evolves over time. Students and mentors may start by playing games, reading or just talking.
“My advice to new mentors is to be a good listener, show up on time, be dependable and non-judgmental,” adds Ogier. “Now, eleven years later, my biggest reward has been seeing students impacted by growing into responsible young adults.”
Every spring, the KEYS program is evaluated by collecting data from campus liaisons, students and mentors. The most recent data shows that 91 percent of students in the KEYS program had a decrease in discipline referrals; 84 percent showed a decrease in absences; and 89 percent showed improved grades. Additionally, in the past six years, $77,000 has been awarded to graduating student participants through Katy ISD’s annual KEYS Scholarship program.
With the new school year underway, Katy ISD campuses will identify many new students who could benefit greatly from a mentor.
“Every year we have more students in need of a mentor than mentors available,” says Brown. “Now is a great time for anyone who ever thought about mentoring to take the first step and get involved.”
To be a KEYS Mentor, you need:
- A belief in the potential of every child;
- One hour per week to spend with a child, on campus during the school day;
- Participation in a brief campus KEYS orientation; and
- Successful completion of a KEYS application and background check.
For more information, please contact Martha Brown in Katy ISD’s Partners in Education department at 281-396-2464.
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