Rilling, Rivera duel in Norwalk Mentor Challenge

Superintendent Manny Rivera
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling has some fun with Superintendent Manny Rivera at the Mayor’s Night Out Monday in Cranbury Elementary School.

NORWALK, Conn. – Mayor Harry Rilling and Superintendent Manny Rivera are having a friendly little competition – to see who can help more Norwalk schoolchildren.

Rilling has attempted at multiple public meetings to recruit mentors for Norwalk kids. On Monday night he took advantage of the angst expressed at the Mayor’s Night Out about littering to motivate the audience before they walked out the door: “One last thing before Dr. Rivera gets you – if you really want to teach a kid about littering we have a mentor challenge,” Rilling said.  

The Mentoring Challenge between the two began in early September. It only takes one hour a week talking to a student at their school to make a difference in their lives, Rilling said at a recent Common Council meeting. “Be someone who matters for someone who matters,” Rilling said.

On Monday, with Rivera sitting nearby, Rilling declined to say how many mentors he’s signed up. “If he knew how many I had he’d really start to sweat,” Rilling said.

There was more joshing.

“Who’s going to buy dinner, you or me?” Rilling said.

“They can sign up with me and then I’ll buy dinner,” Rivera said.

Rilling said he’d be meeting his mentee, a Norwalk High freshman, this week.

“This is a community-wide effort to raise the level of public awareness of the need for and the power of mentoring.  Mayor Rilling and Superintendent of Schools Rivera have themselves accepted the challenge and have become mentors.  They are now leading the charge to recruit caring adults from the City and School District and the public at large who are willing to make a difference in the life of a child,” a press release from the mayor’s office said.

Common Council members also tout the virtues of mentoring.

“It’s certainly an hour well spent,” Council President Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) said at the recent Council meeting.

The United Way’s website says, “A large body of research shows that a child who is mentored demonstrates increased self-confidence, school attendance and academic achievement; avoids risky behaviors; and is more likely to attend college.”

You could sign up to be a mentor there but Rilling said, “Contact the mayor’s office so I can sign on more mentors than Dr. Rivera.”


One response to “Rilling, Rivera duel in Norwalk Mentor Challenge”

  1. Dr. Susan G. Weinberger

    Harry and Manny are leading a charge that is the first in this nation. It is incredible that they are both mentoring and asking others to follow their lead. There is no question that Norwalk, home of the first schoool-based mentoring program in America is dedicated to providing positive role models for our youth. Let’s all join the challenge. I may even buy both these leaders dinner!! The kids are the beneficiaries but the mentors get even more out of the experience. Let’s get going. Who mentored you? Pass it on!!!

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