GGUSD Receives Prestigious Golden Bell Award for Successful Mentoring Program

Dr. Mafi ad mentees

Garden Grove Unified School District received a 2020 Golden Bell Award for its successful College and Career Mentoring Program (CCMP), which provides alumni-led mentoring to at-risk sixth grade students at 33 elementary schools across the district. This unique program began as a grass-roots effort fully supported by the Board of Education and led by Superintendent, Dr. Gabriela Mafi, who recognized a disparity amongst students of high poverty and their realization of college attainment in the future.

The need for the mentoring program was realized after Superintendent Mafi shared her personal and professional story with elementary schools students who questioned how she could attend college coming from a low-income family herself.  From there, Dr. Mafi began mentoring a group of 30 sixth grade students from two elementary schools in 2013-2014, meeting with them monthly through elementary, intermediate and high school to teach them the scholarly habits needed for success in school. The following year she added an additional 60 students from three elementary schools. 

Due to its powerful and productive impact, GGUSD expanded the program, recruiting GGUSD alumni mentors currently attending a four-year university and previously attending their assigned elementary schools. Mentors receive ongoing training, professional development and coaching, working directly with retired teachers, counselors and administrators.

“We developed this program because our students need to see college role models that actually come from their own neighborhoods and attended their own schools,” said Lan Nguyen, Board of Education Trustee. “We’re thrilled to be recognized for this amazing program that is making a real difference in the lives of our students.”

Today, the six-week program supports hundreds of students, taking students through a researched-based curriculum designed to foster motivation, self-efficacy, growth mindset and self-regulation. Additionally, the nearly 100 students of Dr. Mafi’s mentees have a bright future, with 25 of the Class of 2020  attending college and three joining the military. The current Class of 2021 are seniors and submitting their college applications now.  

The program is aligned to the district’s strategic plan and helps ensure students know that college and career success is attainable for all students.

The California School Board Association’s Golden Bell Awards program highlights excellence in education and best practices in school districts throughout the state.