- Mary Dork and Jada Appling share a unique relationship.
The two meet once a week during the school year to talk, play games, or learn new things like playing the keyboard.
And it's this type of one-on-one time that has Dork making a difference in Jada's life.
Rhinelander Central School 5th grader Jada Appling is moving on to middle school next year.
"Very excited to go to middle school," Appling says.
She'll jump to sixth grade and plans to take her mentor, Mary Dork, with her.
"We're just having fun," Appling explains. "She takes me out of class sometimes to have more fun and its gets my grades up."
The two are paired through the Mentoring Oneida County Kids program, or MOCK for short.
"When I was in fourth grade my mom signed me up for this, which I had no clue what this was."
Dork volunteers for the program and has for three years. This is her second year with Jada.
"She enjoys having a mentor and enjoys that special one-on-one," Dork says. "I just think it makes her feel a lot better about herself. I know her teacher says she just looks forward to these days like I wouldn't believe…"
Dork works two part-time jobs but found time to give back to a district she feels gave her family so much.
"I just felt it was a way to give back to the community for the excellent education my daughter received here."
And a program like MOCK compliments that education for students who may not receive the attention they need outside the classroom.
"A personal evaluation from my point of view is I can see a lot of progress that she's made in maturing, growing up, the things she thinks, and ideals, and all good stuff."
Progress that Appling plans to continue next year at James Williams Middle School and says the mentoring has improved an important skill for succeeding in school.
"My listening," Appling says. "Also having a little more fun in school."
A little more fun in school with the help of a community volunteer.
The program currently has 82 matches and a large waiting list.
Program organizers say most of the waiting list consists of boys looking for a male mentor.
Story By: Matt Doyle