WMS selected for new ‘Connecting For Success’ grant

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<p>Staff members pose for a photo in the Waimea Middle School College and Career Center. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WMS)</p>

WMS has been selected as one of 12 Hawaii schools to receive a new “Connecting for Success” grant from Hawaii Community Foundation. Two new staff positions are funded by the grant to complement WMS faculty and staff. The new staff members are Suzi Herhold, an experienced middle school counselor, and Lorilei Ching, an experienced family-community outreach coordinator. According to the school, both are ideally suited to working with students, families, faculty, staff and community members to ensure academic success for students.

Herhold regularly substituted for the school’s counselor, Mary Martinson. Herhold grew up in Waimea — paddling, riding horseback and dancing hula when attending HPA. After college in Massachusetts and working with teens in outdoor education, she and her family moved to Half Moon Bay, Calif., where she was a middle school counselor for 14 years. Upon returning to Waimea about four years ago, she served as a counselor at Laupahoehoe School.

Ching is a Hilo High graduate with family ties to Waipio Valley. She has a bachelor’s in education from University of Hawaii-Manoa and has traveled extensively with her husband who was in the U.S. Coast Guard. She has worked as a resident counselor at a girlsʻ shelter in Florida, and later, as a crisis counselor at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.

As implied by the name of the three-year WMS grant, “Sharing Responsibility for Student Success,” a wide array of recognized best practices for connecting students to school will be employed. This will include developing individual student learning plans for each participant, securing, training and supporting community mentors, coordinating family workshops, providing small group or individual counseling and more — all depending on the needs of students.

Ching’s first assignment for the grant was to set up a College and Career Center headquartered in “The Cottage” on the WMS campus. Ching’s next priority is recruiting and training community volunteers to serve as individual student mentors. She is reaching out to individuals, groups and local business leaders to talk about what it means to become a student mentor – the time commitment and extensive support that will be provided.

As with all volunteers at a school, volunteer mentors will first be interviewed and then undergo the DOE’s mandatory criminal history check and TB test. For more information or to discuss becoming a mentor, call Ching at 887-7646.