The El Dorado Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Adopt-A-Class program along with Vision 2020 for the third consecutive year.

The El Dorado Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Adopt-A-Class program along with Vision 2020 for the third consecutive year.

Research shows that business involvement with the program promotes more engaged employees, higher retention rates, higher morale and a heightened visibility for businesses.

Currently, there are 11 local organizations involved with Adopt-A-Class which include, the El Dorado Rotary Club, Downtown Kiwanis, the El Dorado Fire Department, Butler Community College, Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital, ICI, Frontier Refinery, Art of Life Chiropractic, the El Dorado Recreation Department, Sungroup and YMCA.

SBA and Frontier both have two teams participating and BCC has four.
The Chamber currently needs eight additional teams for the program.

“We’ll take all the teams we can get,” said Shirley Patton, El Dorado Chamber of Commerce executive director.

The Chamber is renovating the program this year and including teams that consist of multiple businesses.

“There are some businesses that do not have enough employees that can participate, so we are taking on broader teams at the Chamber,” Patton remarked.

The program has been successful in it previous two years and encompasses mentoring entire classes for their school career.

“Volunteers spend an hour per week in the classroom,” said Patton. “They are dedicated for thirteen years, following them through all levels.
“They really strike up quite a relationship.”

According to Patton, members have had a wonderful time participating.

“Even the Fire Department has a team,” she said, “which makes it really neat because they have to drive their fire truck to the school.”

Volunteers do receive formal training and at least one team member must attend each visitation, two or three are generally preferred.

The program was initiated in the fall of 2007 and all eight kindergarten classrooms in USD 490 are involved.

Teams will interact with their “adopted” class, and each fall a new group of volunteers will be recruited to “adopt” the incoming kindergarten class.

According to the Chamber mentors, teachers and administrators completed surveys at the end of the first year and 100 percent of the respondents said the program provided a positive activity for students and mentors, improved relationships between the school and businesses and community service group, and strengthened the business, service group or school by improving moral or by heightened visibility and recognition.

Also, all respondents said they would recommend participation to others.

During the 2008-09 academic year, there were 294 kindergarten and first grade students in the program with 67 mentors comprising 16 teams.

“The Adopt-a-Class program allows additional help from adults allowing more individualized time per student,” said one first year mentor. “It also reflects how adults are taking an interest in the kids’ education and providing a positive role model for the kids.”

“I have enjoyed my time working with the youth this semester,” stated another mentor. “This program is like the adult version of recess. I take the activities that we do home and share them with my 5-year-old daughter. She gets a real kick out of them (and that her dad goes to kindergarten).

“The kids are incredible, I hope they have enjoyed me as much as I have enjoyed them.  Looking forward to 2008-2009.

 For more information about the Vision 2020 Community Mentoring Initiative, contact the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce, 201 E. Central Avenue, El Dorado, KS  67042, 316-321-3150, or