"The new criteria of one big to one little gives more of a one-on-one approach," said Tuck. "We always need more bigs, so more littles can benefit from the program."
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks (BBBS) is a non-profit organization that provides children with support, guidance, friendship and fun by matching them with adult role models. The program serves the community with a professional staff that carefully works with both the volunteers and the children to ensure that the experience is dynamic, fulfilling, memorable and fun.
Nancy Noll-Meyer, counselor, has been involved in the program since the beginning. Noll-Meyer works with the teachers to screen the students and decide which students are best for the program. Noll-Meyer and the teachers look at the needs of the student and if those needs can be met in a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters.
"It is amazing to see how the relationships have developed after they get to know each other," said Noll-Meyer. "Some of the littles that were so shy and quiet became more outgoing in high school because of the experience of being in the program."
Tuck was hired on Dec. 22, 2011, and began training the first week in January. Tuck has been in the education field for 31 years. He began his career in Jasper where he taught for 10 years. Tuck was then hired at Lamar, which is his alma mater. He also served as the A+ coordinator for three years in Lamar.
During this time, he also coached and worked on his masters degree at Missouri State University. After three years as A+ coordinator, Tuck was hired as Lamar Middle School principal for three years. He then transferred to Willard and served as the high school principal before retiring.
Tuck came out of retirement to serve as assistant principal at Monett High School last year. He then accepted a parttime position at the suggestion of Dr. John Jungmann, superintendent of Monett Schools, to assist with the Missouri Option program at the Southwest Area Career Center. This allows Tuck the time to act as coordinator of the Big Brother Big Sister program.
"I am excited to work with not only the kids of this community but with a community that is so supportive," said Tuck. "That doesn't happen everyday. I found out by being the assistant principal of the high school that this community is unbelievable when it comes to being supportive of our school and kids in general. You couldn't ask for a better community to work in."
High school students can also serve as bigs as long as they are 16 or older. All bigs are screened with complete background checks. They must have a license and insurance.
"If the high school student is in the A+ program they can also get credit for the mentoring," said Tuck.
The program is privately funded by donations only.
"My job will consist mainly of paperwork, fundraising and recruiting," said Tuck.
According to BBBS statistics, mentoring has a strong impact on students that includes: 52 percent less likely to skip school; 46 percent less likely to begin using drugs; 33 percent less likely to hit someone or start a fight at school; and 27 percent less likely to use alcohol.
"I see kids that haven't had a support system and kids that are in difficult positions," said Tuck. "I would like to make a difference with kids, so they don't end up in the same situations. This is a great way to do that."
Those interested in helping with the program, becoming a mentor or making a donation can call SWACC at 235-7022, Don Tuck at 417-268-5555 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.