Last updated: April 04. 2014 9:47AM - 613 Views
By - dvanderford@civitasmedia.com

Derik Vanderford|Daily TimesMr. Leroy Worthy, back right, is pictured with Ms. Brandy Palmer's third-grade class, which Worthy mentors on a weekly basis at Lockhart School.
Derik Vanderford|Daily TimesMr. Leroy Worthy, back right, is pictured with Ms. Brandy Palmer's third-grade class, which Worthy mentors on a weekly basis at Lockhart School.
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LOCKHART — A local mentor is teaching students early about being productive and successful citizens.

Each Thursday morning at Lockhart School, students in Ms. Brandy Palmer’s third-grade class look forward to their weekly visit from their mentor, Mr. Leroy Worthy.

Worthy helps students on various levels. Academically, he assists them in classroom games and works on communication skills. On Thursday, Worthy had students play a communication game similar to the classic “telephone” game, in which he gave them information to communicate to each other, one student at a time. This week’s information was a sports history factoid: “The Lockhart High School football team won the state championship in 1971.”

Worthy teaches the children much more than classroom lessons, however. He instills life lessons.

“We appreciate the time he spends at our school with our students,” said Principal Betsy Trakas. “He’s an excellent role model for them, and he brings valuable lessons to the class. Not only does he help them with academic achievement, but from him they learn about responsibility, work ethic, how to treat other people, and giving back to the community.”

In the school cafeteria on Thursday, Worthy encouraged students not to be wasteful.

“This is a tough age because they have all the subject areas and new responsibilities,” Palmer said. “With Mr. Worthy here, they are more conscientious about respect, responsibility, and why they do the things they do. They really enjoy their time with Mr. Worthy.”

Worthy said when he decided to become a mentor that he knew elementary school was where he should go.

“Elementary school is where we need to get involved as mentors,” he said. “By the time they get to high school, a lot of them have their minds made up.”

Worthy said he chose third grade because he remembered that being the toughest grade when he was in school.

Worthy worked at Milliken for 38 years, 35 of which he spent in human resources. He said he could see a change in job applicants over time, which he attributed to their backgrounds. Worthy attempts to teach students the keys to success.

Palmer said students often approach Worthy — who was dressed in a black suit and dress shoes — complimenting his clothes and appearance.

“They like the way I dress,” Worthy said. “They need to see that you dress for success.”

Worthy explained that he will continue to mentor that same class next year as they enter the fourth grade.

“I don’t want to single any of them out, but some need extra attention,” he said. “I’m trying to build a team.”

On Thursday, Worthy named one student “class manager,” and assigned him the responsibility of making sure books, coats and class paperwork were each in their proper places.

“A lot of these kids get a bad rap, but if we get involved, we would see we can change that,” Worthy said. “These are good, sweet kids. They listen and want to learn. They’re growing up, and they just need that attention.”

Palmer added that when children know someone cares, they remember.

Worthy said his work in the schools is also self-fulfilling.

“It gives me a feeling of involvement with young people’s growth and future,” he said. “I look forward to young people having great futures and serving our community and country with integrity.”

“When they see me in Walmart, they come up and hug me,” Worthy laughed. “Their parents say, ‘You know him?!’”

Worthy said he would love to see more parents, community members and local businesses get involved in schools.

“We need somebody in every class,” he said, adding that instilling values at a young age could help cut down on jail intake.

“It’s sad to me to know we build more jails than schools. Future leaders can change that.”

Worthy said he would be glad to assist anyone in becoming a mentor in the school system, and anyone with questions may call him at (864) 426-7894(864) 426-7894.

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