Still going strong, Sutton’s mentoring program, Breaker Buddies, is a way to help ease the transition for middle school kids, and also provide them with knowledge to make better decisions.
“Breaker Buddies is about talking to the kids and building their self-esteem,” said Sutton. “Whatever problems they are going through, we want them to know that they have a voice that will be there for them.”
Sutton says the group meets every week after school.
“We mentor them every Tuesday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.,” said Sutton. “We do several events with them throughout the year and bring in several different motivational speakers to speak with them.”
With so much going on in the lives of students, Sutton says the most important part about the program is just being there as an adult figure they can look up to.
“We have both men and women that mentor the boys and the girls,” said Sutton. “We just want to be there as they make the transition from elementary school to middle school. A lot of the sixth graders still have the mindset of just play, play, play. We’re trying to help them stay focused.”
Gettys Middle School Principal Mike Cory says the program has been a huge benefit to the school.
“Breaker Buddies has been a tremendous support for the students and families of Gettys Middle School. For many of these students, they have faced challenges and the support of this program is essential to their success,” said Cory. “Research will show you that a caring adult or mentor in the life of a child can contribute to that student receiving a diploma or becoming a high school dropout.”
Sutton has seen his outreach pay dividends.
The pastor recalls several instances in which Breaker Buddies was able to make at least a small impact on students’ lives.
“When we first started six years ago I had one kid come in with his head down,” said Sutton. “We were going around talking about future goals, and when it got to his turn he said how he hated school and he couldn’t wait to get old enough to drop out, but he kept coming every week. We started to see his attitude turn around, and he started to become one of the best kids in the class. He’s still doing well today.”
As the program grows, Sutton says he just wants his students to make the right choices.
“The ultimate message (that we have for the kids) is to make better choices,” said Sutton. “Some of the kids are trying to fit in with the ‘cool group.’ Our primary purpose would be to help them focus on their school work, and to dream big.”
To learn more about Breaker Buddies, or to get involved, contact Gettys Middle School at 864-397-3900.