Nevada Proud: Firefighters mentor students

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Updated: 2/05/2014 11:58 am
RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- Reno firefighters, operators and even chiefs are getting out of the firehouse, and into the school house to mentor local students. It's another reason to be Nevada Proud.

Reno Firefighter Anthony Marvel wanted to make a difference, so he and about 10 others from the Fire Department started volunteering at Roger Corbett Elementary School last fall. "Every time I come here, I leave smiling and laughing about something."

"I remember being a kid and you are, especially at an age like this, you're already so self aware, so worried about everything that's going on around you, worried about you," said Marvel. "This is a great environment to just be yourself."

Firefighter Leonard Munoz says he's happy to be giving back. "I live in the city of Reno, so it's awesome that I can get out here and have a positive influence on the young children in our community."
Kids like sixth-graders Aundriea Arbuckle and Aidan Orozco, who are already learning a lot about their mentors. "They can be creative with fun things and that grown-ups are not that bad after all," said the 11-year-old Orozco. Arbuckle, 12, said, "It's awesome. I like them being here. It's fun to hang out with them."

Corbett Elementary Principal Denise Dufrene says while they are playing football or soccer, the kids are doing more than just having fun. "They're getting some really nice character education."

"The coolest part is we get to talk to them and spend time with them. We call them our mentors," said Arbuckle.

Sixth-grader Stephen Suarez said, "They know how to respect the teacher and everything." Suarez's classmate Cinthia Garcia said, "We get to learn new things about them and just have fun out here."

It's good for the students to have positive interaction with adults, and Dufrene says the fire crew is doing an excellent job. "They're just being really good role models, so that our students can see even though they're maybe 10, 11,12 what does it look like to be an adult who's successful and what kind of path does that require somebody to take."

"Just interacting with the kids and hopefully having a positive influence on them, encouraging them to do good, to study hard and hopefully stay in school," said Munoz.

Although it is a big lesson, they teach it through small actions every other Tuesday. "We hang out with them. We play games, sit and talk, talk about homework, talking about sports," Munoz said. "Anything they want to talk about, we talk about."
"(We) try to expose them to how math and science," added Marvel. "All the skills they're learning, all the things they're learning actually apply in the real world."
Marvel also believes that helping the education system is something everyone should want to do. As for the firefighters' service at the school, this is only the beginning.

Dufrene says it is not only for this moment in the children's lives. "Hopefully, this will be ongoing for years, and so the idea is maybe the firefighters could follow these students as they move up the grade levels and really support their success."

"The hope is that this partnership will be a long-standing partnership," Marvel said.

This relationship between the firefighters and the school is set up through the Education Alliance of Washoe County's Partners in Education program. If you are interested in learning more or joining the program, you can visit their website.
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