Jan 03 2017 | 09:46:22 AM

Bank of Texas volunteers become superheroes at Fifth Ward Head Start Center

Once a month, students at Harris County Department of Education’s Fifth Ward Head Start Center eagerly await visits from their superheroes, Chris Frey and Gary Whitt with the Bank of Texas, Houston. Frey, commercial relationship manager, and Whitt, senior vice president, are community volunteers with the Real SuperMENtors Read program and serve as consistent, positive role models for Fifth Ward students.

Three years ago, Frey and Whitt eagerly joined SuperMENtors to promote community involvement, encourage reading and, most importantly, support Head Start students. Since they began volunteering, they’ve watched students become more engaged as their relationships with the professionals grow.

“You can see the difference from the beginning of the year to the end, and from the 3-year-old to the 4-year-old students,” said Whitt. “The students we’ve known for a year and developed relationships with are much more engaged.”

While the 3-year-old students at Fifth Ward are always excited to see Whitt, excitement erupts when he enters the 4-year-old classroom and he is greeted with big smiles and a group hug.

The SuperMENtors program is part of the ongoing Head Start Significant Male Initiative established to encourage male involvement throughout the HCDE Head Start centers. Community volunteers like Frey and Whitt provide more than a fun, engaging lesson. They promote reading and writing while creating a consistent support system for students.

“I think there’s value in professionals coming in and spending time with students in their environment,” said Frey. “The SuperMENtors program is easy to commit to and is very rewarding. That’s why I keep coming back.”

Frey and Whitt also hope to use their superhero status with the students to demonstrate the importance of community involvement.

“We want to instill that even though we work and are involved in business, we’re still involved in our community,” said Whitt.

For more information or to participate in the Head Start Real SuperMENtors Read program, visit https://goo.gl/X0YTYU.