January is National Mentoring Month, and this year INTEGRIS is celebrating 25 years of the mentoring movement by continuing to connect more of our community’s young people with caring adults.
Under the direction of then President and Chief Executive Officer Stanley Hupfeld, the Oklahoma Healthcare Corporation and Baptist Medical Center, now known as INTEGRIS, joined forces with Oklahoma City Public Schools to launch a pilot program called PROJECT 2000. The program was the first of its kind in the Oklahoma City area, matching up adult male role models with high risk, minority male students in the Oklahoma City Public Schools.
In March 1992, Hupfeld hand-picked five INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center employees to begin mentoring students at Dunbar Elementary School. Amazingly, three of those original five men are still INTEGRIS employees and active mentors in what is now called the INTEGRIS Positive Directions mentoring program. These men are Ed Hamilton, Clay Rivers and James Moore.
“I always felt good knowing I was making a difference in a student’s life. But what I didn’t expect was the positive impact these students would make on my life,” reflects Moore. “Mentoring for the past 25 years has made me a better person. Knowing that I have made lasting impressions on countless students brings me great pride and is truly one of my greatest accomplishments.”
“The objectives of the program are to build self-esteem, establish positive relationships, help children overcome negative behaviors and improve the students’ classroom participation.” Tobi Campbell is director of the INTEGRIS Positive Directions mentoring program. She says early on, the program expanded to include female mentors and students. Today, it has more than 200 mentors and has improved the academic, social and economic outcomes for many. “Research shows that mentors can play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools they need to make responsible choices, attend and engage in school, and reduce or avoid risky behavior like drug use.”
The INTEGRIS operated Stanley Hupfeld Academy at Western Village is also a true success story and a testament to the power of mentoring. Established in 2000, it was Oklahoma’s first elementary charter school and was the first school in the nation to be operated by a health care system. With the implementation of an arts-integrated curriculum, schoolwide reading program, parent outreach initiative and the addition of 300 mentors, one for each child at the school, the school’s designation as “low performing” has been removed and students are now reaching new levels of academic achievement and stability.
The school’s namesake, Stanley Hupfeld, has long believed there is a correlation between overall health and education. It was his vision to extend outside hospital walls into the community, and he felt mentoring was a great avenue through which to do that.
“Health has as much to do with what we do here in the hospital as it has to do with what you had to eat today and where you live and more particularly how well educated you are,” concludes Hupfeld. “We began our mentoring endeavors 25 years ago and frankly they remain unmatched in this state and by very few across the country.”
INTEGRIS continues to support Hupfeld’s vision by providing mentors for both Stanley Hupfeld Academy and Fillmore Elementary School. Most of these mentors are INTEGRIS employees who volunteer their time and talents today for the betterment of tomorrow. INTEGRIS encourages other businesses and organizations to follow suit so that eventually no Oklahoma child will grow up without a mentor.