Take Stock in Children is a comprehensive program that helps low-income children succeed by providing college and vocational scholarships, volunteer mentors, student advocates/case managers, tutoring, early intervention and long-term support, high standards, parental involvement, and community support. It is a solution to one of the most critical problems facing Florida–high dropout and high youth crime rates. Take Stock in Children has a proven record of helping low-income children graduate from high school, attend college, stay out of trouble, and become productive citizens. Marion County has a large population of low-income families. Studies have shown that students benefit from caring adults in a mentoring relationship. A mentor is a role model, a friend and a leader. Geraldine Palmer exemplifies all of the characteristics of a good mentor. Palmer became a mentor in 1999 for the statewide Take Stock in Children Program. Being a former educator, Palmer has a wonderful way of seeing the student’s point of view and focusing on what would help them want to help themselves. As a mentor, Palmer designed a study skills flyer for her mentee who was having trouble with her exams. Using the study skills techniques, her mentee brought grades from F’s to A’s on her next exams. The recent accountability testing at schools has contributed to increased test anxiety for students, particularly when they are not prepared. Palmer’s idea is to not only get prepared but to also get a winning attitude. Palmer followed her mentee from 8th grade 10th grade until a family tragedy split the family and Amanda moved away. She is now mentoring another student who is having some major challenges. Palmer has become a part of the Leadership Council and also served last year on the selections’ team for the program. She is continually expanding her commitment to the program. Soon after she became a mentor, Palmer told about a Leadership experience that she had when she was young. She wanted to give that experience to the Take Stock Children scholars. She designed the curriculum, found the site and organized the whole weekend for about 20 students and mentors. The weekend included a ropes challenge course. Many of the students have never been away from home at all. All participants had a meaningful experience. Palmer is continually telling the Take Stock story. She is in charge of prizes for the annual golf tournament and always brings in several tables full. She recently presented a proposal to her doctor who agreed to contribute funds to support leadership camp. Because of her skills and dedication, there are now three successful leadership camping weekends. From one-on-one mentoring to planning a leadership weekend for adults and teens, Palmer has been a staple of the Take Stock in Children Program in Ocala, Florida.
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