New nonprofit program aims to limit dropout rates among Wylie High School students

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A new program making waves at Wylie High School mentors students at risk of not walking across the stage.

As of the 2019-2020 school year, about 30% of students were considered at risk of dropping out of school.

Mentor Shannon Zachary says it all starts with a one-on-one conversation.  

“Seeing the look on their face of achieving something, it’s very rewarding,” said Zachary.  

Mentors help in making sure students at Wylie High School who are at risk of failing get back on track.  

“Every week gets easier because you get to know the kid you’ve been blessed to be assigned to, and you just start to build a relationship and a rapport with them,” said Zachary. 

The new program is called Mentors Care, where staff or parents can refer struggling students. 

“The goal originally was to have 20 mentors be part of the program by Christmas. We’re at 42,” said Wylie’s on-site coordinator, Mark Blakely.  

Just nine weeks in, Blakely says they’ve enrolled 40 students that can now receive an hour of a mentor’s time to open up about their everyday challenges. 

“We’re not trying to replace mom and dad or aunts or uncles or anybody in the family, we’re just another layer of support to anybody who is trying to get that student through high school,” said Blakely.   

Founder of Mentors Care, Dena Petty, says she battled through a dark childhood herself. 

“I was the kid that hardly showed up to school, nobody ever checked my grades, nobody woke me up and said, ‘Get up, go to school,’ so I missed as many days as I could. I still don’t know how I graduated, but I did,” said Petty.

When it came to seeing other children go through the same hardships she faced growing up, Petty says she wanted to see a change. 

“We have such an opportunity to really reach those kids that you’re normally never going to go shopping with, or live near, or go to church with, but you hear the schools saying that there’s issues and there’s problems, but we don’t necessarily know them,” said Petty.  

Petty says the goal of Mentors Care is to give students what they need not only to graduate, but to live their lives to their fullest potential. 

“This is an intentional bringing people together, people that say, ‘I want to help, I want to do,’ and then these kids the schools are saying, ‘Man, they really need a friend, they really need somebody,’” said Petty.  

If you have a student you think will benefit from the Mentors Care program or will like to volunteer as a mentor, click here.  

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