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Rock mentors: making a difference for 15 years

This year’s Stand-By-Me Mentor representatives are from left Kim Paulson, Amy Davis, Principal Amy Hamborg, Bridget Bauman, Lisa Wald, Erin Schiltgen, Cathy Schewe, Elizabeth Pichardo, Ann Siats, coordinator Holly Quinn-Marrs, Linda Schwertel, Steve Schoenecker. Not pictured are Charlotte Kempfert and Gail Jung. (Submitted photo)1 / 5
Javon Stephens is in fifth grade and his mentor is Stan Schoenecker. Schoenecker said the relationship is a good one and he likes hanging out with Javon who he describes as interesting, smart and fun to be with. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Meg Heaton) 2 / 5
:If it’s Monday then it means that mentor Kim Penman will be there to meet first-grader Chris Luciano. Shy at first, Penman said Luciano has become more outgoing and sure of himself as the year has gone on. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Meg Heaton) 3 / 5
Mentor June Waalen has been with the program since it began 15 years ago. She has been a mentor to fourth-grader Kenzie Johnson for two years. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Meg Heaton) 4 / 5
This year there are a record number of mentoring partnerships at Rock Elementary including Robin Rose and Sebastian Houareau. (Submitted photo)5 / 5

For 15 years students and teachers from E.P. Rock Elementary and people from throughout the community have come together to make the “Stand By Me Mentoring Partnership a game-changer.

Everyone associated with the program is a volunteer from the mentors to the teachers they work with to the program coordinator, Holly Quinn-Marrs. This year there are a record number of mentors, 68, which includes 30 new mentors recruited by Quinn-Marrs. The mentors are matched with 74 Rock students in grades K-5. Some mentors work with multiple children.

The program is the brainchild of learning disabilities teacher Ann Siats and fellow teachers Amy Davis and Bridgett Baumann. It began with just a few fourth-graders in Siats’ class. It wasn’t long before other fourth-graders were asking how they could get a mentor of their own and the rest is history.

June Waalen, a former teacher herself, has been a mentor since the program began and she was a teaching assistant to Siats. She says she loves being with children and that mentoring “gets in your blood.” She has been meeting with mentees weekly over the years, having lunch with them, helping with school work, even teaching them to knit.

This year she is working with Kenzie, a fourth-grader, who calls the day her mentor comes “June day.” Siats says that it is the kind of consistent presence in Kenzie’s life that Waalen provides that is so important to the students.

“That’s what makes a good mentor -- someone they can count on to be there on a consistent basis for them. It is not so much what they do when they get together as it is about someone coming to pay attention specifically to them.”

The Rock program realized early on that all children could benefit from that added attention. While most mentoring programs target only “at risk” children, any student at Rock who would like a mentor can participate provided there are enough mentors to go around.

Quinn-Marrs put on a full-court press this year to recruit 30 new mentors but says she could use 50 more and encourages adults willing to give up a lunch hour once week to consider joining the program. All mentors undergo a background check and get training but the requirements of the job are simple. “It’s about being with kids on their terms, listening to them and just being someone they can count on to be there.”

For more information about becoming a mentor contact Holly Quinn-Marrs at (715)377-3840, ext. 2271 or contact her via email at

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

(715) 808-8604