BOE honors mentorship program coordinator for four years of service to students
At its last regular meeting in 2021, on Wednesday, December 22, the Rome Board of Education recognized honorary resident Frank P. DiBerardino for his service and stewardship in the manifestation of Rome’s mentorship program. New York State in the city of Rome’s seven school districts (now six) elementary schools.
DiBerardino was a founding member of the New York State Mentoring Program Advisory Council, established in 2015 when he began launching new school-based mentoring initiatives across the state.
In 2016, DiBerardino worked to establish the Mentoring Program in the City of Rome School District, and guided and developed the program for the next four years.
The program initially served three of Rome’s seven elementary schools, but thanks in large part to DiBerardino’s efforts to engage local businesses through the Rome Region Chamber of Commerce, the ranks of volunteers swelled. with personnel from local organizations including the Eastern Air Defense Sector and the Air Force Research Laboratory – known locally as “Rome Lab”. In just four years and just before the closure of classroom learning caused by the Covid pandemic in the spring of 2020, the presence of the New York State Mentoring Program in Rome had expanded to all seven elementary schools and served about 300 students.
Rome’s Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution commemorating the encouragement of “community partnership and support for student achievement wherever possible” encouraged by DiBerardino, who was recognized by the resolution for having “contributed to the development and operations of the New York State Mentorship Program for students and community members of the City of Rome School District”, thus bringing “recognition and credit to himself, to our community and, in turn, to the school district of the city of Rome”.
Members of the Board of Education and Peter Blake, Superintendent of Rome Schools, praised and thanked DeBerardino for his unconditional support of the students and community of Rome.
Following the recognition by the Rome School Board, Debbie Adamo of the Rome Region Chamber of Commerce, who liaises with the mentorship program, was on hand to present DiBerardino with a certificate of recognition for his efforts to establish partnerships between the chamber and mentoring program of the school district of the city of Rome.
“If Webster’s Dictionary put a picture next to the words: Humble – Passionate – Dedicated – Committed, it would be a picture of you, Frank,” Adamo said. “You are the driving force behind the success of this program…you have been phenomenal.”
Adamo pointed out that the mentorship program started with a much smaller group; but, year after year, DiBerardino’s volunteer recruitment efforts enabled it to serve more and more students.
Adamo told DiBerardino, “You did it beautifully.”
DiBerardino, humbly as expected, addressed the gathering to say that the success of the Rome mentorship program would have been possible without the support of Blake and Amanda Jones, Director of Counseling Services for the Rome District. He thanked the directors and program site coordinators of each elementary school, without whom the program would not have been possible. He also recognized the Rome Chamber of Commerce for their partnership and “good work” in encouraging the Rome business community to participate in the program.
“Kids who lack confidence, who have socialization issues, who just need a little extra push,” DiBerardino said, “without that help, a lot of them wouldn’t be able to go on. “
DiBerardino credited many of the mentors who had been with the Rome program for the four years leading up to the pandemic restrictions to say “the bonds and bonds that were created would be lasting and the impact on the children was remarkable.”
Says DiBerardino, “You wouldn’t believe the transformation!”
Berardino concluded to share what he called “good state news,” that New York State’s mentorship program will continue under the new administration.
“After COVID,” DiBerardino said, “we are happy to relaunch the program!”