Patterned after report card conferences held at Ware County High School in recent years — as citizens of the community review report card grades with pupils and offer their one-on-one praise and encouragement — the practice is successful at Center as well, said Tyler A. Bennett, principal.
“We have decided to repeat the event when report cards are issued at the close of each of the nine-week periods,” he said.
A variety of community members have participated in the conferences and reviewed report cards with kindergartners through fifth graders, said Susan Tison, parent involvement coordinator.
“Every student at Center was mentored and congratulated for his or her progress,” she said.
Several dignitaries associated with the Ware County Board of Education, including Superintendent Jim L. LeBrun and BOE members Franklin L. Pinckney Sr., Edward “Buster” Tyre, Joe Meadows and Denton Dial participated in the worthwhile endeavor.
Civil servants also gave of their time. Captain Tommy Cox of the Waycross Police Department allowed six of his officers to mentor students, including Officers Timothy Lucas, Matt Beauregard, Brandon A. Music, Charles Brown, Donna Waters and Sarinda Durham.
Battalion Chief Jim Blackburn of the Ware County Fire Department sent officers Daryl Perritt and Matt Hall, and Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal made his deputies available, D. Hanson, Michael Ray, Troy Lewis and James Cox.
“It was a pleasure to have these ladies and gentlemen onsite for the conferences,” Tison said.
Principal Tyler Bennett added: “I want to personally thank all of our community representatives who took time away from their daily jobs to mentor our Center students. I am excited to continue this great initiative because of the feedback we have heard from our teachers, students and parents.
“You know, our students hear every day from our teachers how proud of them we are, but it was nice to see our students being congratulated and motivated to keep up the great work by our civil servants in our own community. We even had several of our students state that they wanted to be a police officer or a firefighter when they grow up!”
Center staff members also took the opportunity to conference with students, including Lee Byrd, assistant principal; Shelly Cox, gifted coordinator; Beulah Evans, counselor; Pam Barnhill,  Rt-I interventionist; Sandra Frye, media specialist; Tison; and Bennett, as well as retired Center teachers Lynda Young, Becky Dell and Susan Wester.
Victoria Jones of PrimeSouth Bank and Nicole Batten of Atlantic Coast Bank also served as mentors.
After discussing their report cards, students were given a certificate of achievement or encouragement and a sticker for perfect attendance during the nine-week period by the mentors, who encouraged them to continue to work hard to meet their goals and commended them for their successes.
Students were also asked to think about their future career and set goals to make their job aspirations come true.
“The students enjoyed the interaction with these dignitaries, business leaders and civil servants, and they look forward to doing this again in the upcoming school year,” Tison said. “If you are interested in partnering with Center Elementary, please contact Mr. Tyler A. Bennett, principal or myself.”