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PRESS RELEASE

February 24, 2005

Vivian Myrtetus
(850) 245-0413

Florida's Department of Education Celebrates Employee Mentors

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John Winn today congratulated Department of Education employees who serve as mentors in Leon and the surrounding counties. The Department has 142 active mentors, logging over 7,200 hours in the first three quarters of 2004.

"I applaud the employees of the Department of Education for their commitment and determination to help open the doors of opportunity for children throughout Florida," said Commissioner Winn. "Every employee is encouraged to become an active mentor and make a difference in the life of a child."

Last month, the Department hosted a Mentor Appreciation Celebration to honor and thank the dedicated employees who serve as mentors. The celebration continued with classes by Just Read, Florida! staff to help mentors teach reading to their students.

Department of Education employees serve as mentors and volunteers at 42 schools in Leon County and participate in seven community programs and three special projects such as the Leon County History Fair, Summer Reading Camps and Career Days. These experiences are extremely rewarding and mentors often acknowledge the lasting bonds they form with their students.

Commissioner Winn is currently training to become a Guardian ad Litem, one of the most difficult volunteer/mentor assignments, advocating for a young child in the court system.

Another employee who mentors a fifth grade student says, "One of the most memorable times we had together was when we went to the Black History Month reception at the Governor's mansion and had our picture taken with Governor Bush." Both the employee and the student say that the opportunity to build a relationship based on consistency and trust helps the student gain confidence in his or her ability to learn.

The Governor's Mentoring Initiative seeks to recruit 10 percent of each state agency's employees to become mentors. State employees are allowed to use up to five hours each month for mentoring activities.

For more information about the Governor's Mentoring Initiative, visit http://www.volunteerfloridafoundation.org.