Getting Results: Mentors turn campus conversations into scholarships

Take Stock in Children mentor program helps students succeed

ST. CLOUD, Fla. – Linda Lytle is this week's News 6 Getting Results Award winner.

Lytle, a high school mentor for the Education Foundation of Osceola County, has taken on the responsibility of partnering with seven students. 

Kids from low-income and broken families are eligible for prepaid Take Stock in Children college scholarships. The scholarships, awarded through the Education Foundation of Osceola County, come with the agreement that students achieve good grades, attend class, complete a resume and participate in volunteer and club activities.

Lytle and other mentors meet with students at least one a week for 30 minutes to check on them and ensure the requirements are being met.

Every Monday, Lytle makes her way to the outdoor tables at St. Cloud High School.

"This is our office," she said, "and we like it."

There's plenty of laughing as freshman Savanna Prater and sophomore Shyann Wilson meet with Lytle.

"It's helpful," said Prater, who hopes to become a surgeon. "Basically, she makes sure that I keep on track with everything."

Prater said she gets good grades and stays on top of her requirements. She added that she enjoys her  weekly talk with Lytle.

Lytle, now retired, was an elementary school teacher for 20 years. She said she uses her teaching experience to help kids navigate their classwork.

"I consider myself more of a teacher to them, having been a teacher and understanding some of that stuff," Lytle said.

But she admitted the conversations are often about more than just schoolwork. Some of the kids see her as a grandmother figure. They often talk about life outside the classroom. 

"Last year, I didn't really have the guidance, and I was lost," Shyann Wilson said.

Wilson, who plans to study architecture, said Lytle offered her opinions on what clubs to join and what volunteer options would be a good fit for her.

"It's just someone to talk to, a reason to go over what happened during the week and reflect," Wilson said.

Lytle was nominated by children's program coordinator Brian Vasquez.

"She's getting results," Vasquez said. "She was willing to take on seven kids. Most mentors have one. She's visiting two schools, and that's extraordinary."

Education Foundation of Osceola County Executive Director Kerry Avery agreed.

"She's giving up her time to support the students in our community and help them achieve their hopes of a better life," Avery said.

"I get pleasure out of it. It makes me happy to be able to come out and talk to the kids. We talk a lot obout everything. I know it makes me feel great. I hope it does with the kids," Lytle said.  

The Education Foundation of Osceola County has a shortage of volunteers and is in need of 65 mentors for next school year. Anyone interested in learning more about mentorship with the Education Foundation of Osceola County can access its application page HERE.    

About the Author: