MOULTRIE — Wednesday, the sun was shining and the clouds were bright white — a good day for a round of golf, retired U.S. Army Col. Bill Beaty would agree. But Wednesday was a better day for romping on the grounds of one of Moultrie’s most stately homes with a bunch of fifth graders, he said.

Beaty, a pilot and one of Moultrie’s most decorated war veterans, at one time worked at the Pentagon. Now, he has found something worth fighting for at home — the potential of young minds.

Every school day Beaty dedicates his mornings to helping Cox Elementary fifth graders understand math. He was drafted two years ago by Cox teacher Katrina McIntosh, who realized she could tap the influence of a Communities in Schools (CIS) mentor to help all her students clear the math hurdle of the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). In Georgia now, among other criteria, if a student fails to meet the state standard of math on the CRCT in fifth grade, that student will be held back.

“My feeling is if you haven’t made a turnaround by the time you leave fifth grade, the chances are much slimmer, because they just don’t have the time once they move to a bigger school,” McIntosh said.

Besides his knowledge of math, Beaty, already recognized as a CIS volunteer of the year, adds his unique perspective to enrich McIntosh’s lessons.

“He brings so much to life for us in the classroom,” she said.

His backyard picnic at his friend Ann Friedlander’s house was a reward to the class. All 21 of McIntosh’s students passed the math portion of the CRCT.

Eleven-year-old Ian Ramos said he sometimes had trouble figuring out the demands of fifth grade math — fractions, percentages and dividing with decimals. Beaty’s support of McIntosh’s instruction got him over the stumbling blocks.

“It helps a lot,” Ramos said.

“Mr. Beaty is tall, handsome and sweet,” said John Peterson, 11, in an obvious attempt to butter up his mentor. Later, in all seriousness, Peterson revealed his true impression.

“He could be spending his time somewhere else,” he said.

“He helped us pass math this year, and he never got a hole in one,” laughed Kalina Payne, 12.

And even though the students realize they’re interrupting his golf game, they realize even more how instrumental he has become to the realization of their academic capabilities.

“When we have trouble with our math homework, he helps us solve it,” said Brenda Soto, 11, as her classmate Adrian Barrios, 11, adamantly nodded.

And for Soto, especially, the one-on-one has proven to be a boost. Soto spoke no English when she moved to the U.S. from Mexico two years ago and struggled for quite a while, she said, but with mentoring her grades have soared.

The students also had great things to say about McIntosh.

“Ms. McIntosh told us, ‘When in doubt, draw it out,’” Peterson said.

“Yeah, that works,” agreed Ny’Jada Richardson, 11.

She not only teaches them academics but life skills, such as respect and social graces.

“Ms. McIntosh is the best fifth grade teacher ever. I had horrible grades when I came here in January, and Ms. McIntosh made all my grades go straight up,” said Payne.

“No, you made your grades go straight up — listening to what Mrs. McIntosh asks,” McIntosh said.

Payne moved to Moultrie from Jacksonville, Fla. Cox Elementary traditionally has had the most transient student population of Colquitt County’s elementary schools, which adds challenges for both educator and student.

McIntosh also lauded the contributions of other mentors she works with at Cox: Karen and Ed Willis, Samantha Beck, Lynn Aldridge and Jennie Estes. Friedlander and Barbara Fallin also have hosted incentive parties and have discussed topics of interest with the class throughout the year. Her strategy: Enlist the help of your friends.

In its eighth school year, CIS has a force of 228 adult mentors and 34 high school student mentors, said Executive Director Denise Bell. The goal is to have 500, but really, the mentoring program is constrained only by the number of volunteers, she said. Colquitt County Schools has more than 8,700 students.



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