Back to School

By Hannah Wallace August 31, 2004

Instead of kicking back away from the office, SunTrust's Marjie Peter heads straight to Riverview High School, where she mentors a young tenth grader through Take Stock in Children.

The statewide nonprofit organization pairs adult mentors with about 130 youngsters from low-income families in Sarasota County public middle and high schools.

Peter, a wealth strategist in the SunTrust private clients services group, joins other local Take Stock in Children mentors from all walks of business life-bankers, stockbrokers, realtors, police.

They must commit to meeting with a youngster once a week from the start of sixth grade through high school graduation. In return, if the student maintains a C average and has no drug or drinking issues, he or she earns a college scholarship.

"For the businessperson it's a great match, because you don't have to find weekend hours, although I took the plunge and became a Big Sister so we could do things outside of school, too," Peter says. "And you don't have to worry about being funny or smart or up to date. It's just being a consistent adult presence-how did that biology test go, are you still looking for that babysitting job?"

This year, the fourth year of their mentoring relationship, Peter plans to help navigate her student through the college selection process. " I've been fortunate to have a wonderful, communicative girl," she says. "I miss it when we don't have a week."

Peter and her husband Tom, himself a math and science teacher at the Sarasota Military Academy, raised three now-grown sons. Being a public school mentor has "given me a broader view of life in Sarasota; a much better perspective on what's important," she says. "And it's a refreshing change of pace for one hour a week. It's been really fun." So much so that Peter has joined the organization's local board.

At the start of each school year, Take Stock in Children admits 10 or 15 new sixth graders. "We're always looking for a few good men and women," says Peter. If you think you're one of them, call Take Stock in Children at 373-7060.

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