An innovative new community partnership through the Ventura County Reporting and Resource Center recruits former Ventura RRC program participants to serve as personal mentors for students at the local continuation high school.
The student mentorship program was established in 2019 as a collaboration between GEO Reentry Services and Pacific High School, which serves as an alternative to traditional high schools for students who need a little extra guidance.
Supervised by GEO Reentry and Pacific High School staff, former program participants go on site at the school where they share their personal experiences with students, telling them about the mistakes they have made, and how they can avoid them and live a productive life.
“Students can often identify with a mentor. They feel comfortable opening up about their life and they see that they can overcome obstacles just as their mentor has,” said Mary Jane Cordova, Program Manager for the Ventura RRC. “It’s a very fulfilling partnership.”
The mentors — all of whom have successfully completed the Ventura RRC program requirements — also discuss how GEO Reentry programming has taught them new positive principles for living and helped them learn to cope with personal challenges in new, more constructive ways.
Founded in 2016 by GEO Reentry Services, the Ventura RRC works with up to 75 program participants at a time referred by the Ventura County Probation Agency. The program offers multi-phase, evidence-based treatment including behavioral change therapy, group and individual counseling, job preparation classes, life skills training and activities that encourage pro-social behavior. Participants are also subject to reporting requirements and periodic drug tests.
The Ventura RRC’s partnership with Pacific High School began about year ago with the help of Ventura’s Education and Employment Coordinator Mark Garcia, who had been reaching out to local organizations to help nurture positive community relationships; one of these was Pacific High School. On a tour of the Ventura RRC, Pacific’s principal was impressed by the sight of the participants there working hard to improve their lives.
Over the past year, former Ventura RRC program participants, Pacific High School students and staff at both have benefitted from this unique collaborative partnership. Participating students consistently look forward to meeting with their mentors, while former participants say mentoring has given them a real sense of purpose: changing the life paths of students for the better.