New Leader, Fresh Idea

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As a new school year begins, students in local schools are looking forward to the return of the Colby Cares about Kids (CCAK) program, and the chance to see their Colby mentors again. This year, the CCAK program has been taken over by a new coordinator, Lori Morin, who is eager to get started.

Morin's interest in the CCAK program was spurred by seeing it in action. As a former teacher at Waterville Junior High School, Morin felt that the CCAK program was a great help to her as a teacher. "All of the student mentors were so wonderful," she says.

Morin's journey to CCAK director was a long one, but it is a position that she hopes to stay in for a while. Born in Alaska, Morin's father was a member of the Air Force. As a result, the family moved frequently, living in seven different states. She eventually graduated from the University of Maine at Machias. It was there that she met her husband, Antoine, who decided to attend the University of Maine even though he had been recruited by Colby to play basketball.

Morin taught for almost 10 years at Waterville Junior High before deciding in 2004 that she wanted to focus on raising her two children: Madison is seven, who now aspires to someday attend the College after visiting her mom at work, and Andre is three.

Since her children are now older, Morin wants to get back into the field of helping other children. The CCAK director opening is a perfect fit for her, and the transition of the program under her leadership is going smoothly. "I'm really excited about getting to work with college-aged kids. They are so motivated," she says.

Already she is doing her part to make the program more efficient. She has organized a CCAK Rideboard through Facebook, which will help to make the most difficult part of the program, transporting mentors to their respective sites, much easier.

Other changes to the program are also in the works. Morin hopes to help mentors understand the different age groups that their mentees are a part of, because the needs of the elementary-aged students vary dramatically from that of older children.

"I really want to break the myth about junior high kids," Morin says. "I notice that there is reluctance for mentors to want to stay with their mentee when they reach junior high. I want to work to change that mindset."

Consistency is another problem in the CCAK program that Morin is addressing. It is a crucial component of the program that mentors be a steady presence in their mentee's lives. She is currently in the process of searching for those mentors who haven't held up the commitment end of the contract. Morin wants to see if they are still active in CCAK in order to make room for new, eager mentors to join the program.

Morin's enthusiasm for her new position is evident. In her office, she has a bookcase filled with picture books that mentors can borrow and take to their sites so that they have something to do with their mentees. She also has a collection of interesting objects, such as a tumbleweed and an acorn from the West Coast, which she hopes that mentors will take to show their mentees.

"I really want to bring things to the mentees that they haven't seen before, to bring other parts of the world to them," Morin says.