When it comes to school, some kids kind of live on the edge. And that can be a pretty tough place, for them, their parents and their teachers.

The kids I’m talking about have mild intellectual or developmental disabilities that result in disruptive behaviors. They’re capable of learning, but their behaviors make it difficult for them to sit in a classroom and difficult for a teacher to focus on a whole classroom full of kids. That’s why they live on the edge: They are close to staying in the classroom, but also close to having their parents asked to find another option.

What keeps kids like these from slipping over that edge is often one-on-one support. But this isn’t educational support or tutoring I’m talking about. It’s someone who is trained to help a student maintain appropriate behaviors. Someone like that can make a huge difference for the student and everyone around him or her.

Think about it: A student who is not distracted by his own behaviors or constantly feeling bad about being reprimanded performs better in the classroom. In addition, a student who is able to attend her normal school can remain connected to friends, participate in extracurricular activities and be a part of the school community. The student doesn’t have to be bussed or driven to a far-away school, and he’s on a regular school schedule. And, not forced to constantly address one child’s difficult behaviors, the teacher can focus on teaching all students.

In other words, everyone benefits, and that’s why Damar offers this kind of service through our Education Mentoring Program. Free to families with a qualifying elementary, middle, or high school student, this program provides mentors who are trained in Damar behavior management techniques.  All of our Education Mentoring work is done within the central Indiana footprint of schools.

Of course, the mentoring process can look very different from child to child. Sometimes we’ll work with an individual student for years, and sometimes we only need to give students special attention to help them through stressful times – transitions around holidays, for example, or times when there are changes in the classroom.

In some cases, we need to be immediately beside the child the whole day; in other cases, we might simply need to be nearby. Over time, we might go from sitting next to the child to sitting in the corner to sitting in the hallway to maybe working our way into an office and waiting for a call. In other cases, one mentor might work with two kids at a time. Sometimes we phase ourselves out of the process completely. In fact, we like to say that our goal is to work ourselves out of a job, helping the child learn to control his or her own behaviors to point where the mentor is no longer necessary.

Whatever the situation, our overall objective is the same: help the student stabilize, get into the flow of the classroom and succeed.

While we can’t contract directly with parents for Education Mentoring, we are happy to talk with parents about the program and to help them learn how to seek access to it. We believe in the program because we’ve seen it make a huge difference for students, helping them control behaviors and succeed in school.

Or, to put it differently, to help them step back from the edge and settle into learning.

Damar Education Mentoring allows schools to meet the requirements of federal No Child Left Behind legislation. If you would like to learn more, email info@damar.organd note that you’d like information about Education Mentoring. We’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Donnie McCoy

About the Author

Donnie McCoy

Director, Older Youth & Services Education Mentoring

As the Director of Older Youth Services, Education Mentoring, & Operations Analyst, Donnie McCoy provides educational, vocational, social, and life skills development training to youth in residential programs, DCS regions 5&6, and school systems throughout central Indianapolis and surrounding areas. As the operations analyst, Donnie works with the leadership team to maximize output that support clients’ needs and financial goals. He holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from the University of Indianapolis.