Mentor program helps FPC student achieve perfect math SAT score
Danielle Anderson, Correspondent
Daytona Beach News-Journal
Published December 30, 2020 at 10:11 am
Third time’s the charm for Flagler Palm Coast High School junior Mervyn Gong, who received an early Christmas present with the news he’d scored a perfect 800 on his math SATs recently.
As a student in the Peter and Sue Freytag Take Stock in Children program, Gong recalled receiving a mailer for the scholarship program and signing up for it three years ago, where he was paired up with his mentor, Jason Wheeler.
“As I’ve grown to know him over the years, he’s a really great man and I’m glad to know him,” said Gong, a future chemistry major whose sights are set on the University of Florida. “Mr. Wheeler has really helped me stay focused.”
Gong, who earned a 1480 overall, said it wasn’t easy earning the perfect math score, but the years of practice finally paid off.
“Over the years I’ve been practicing with the Kahn Academy website and their practice tests, drilling myself over and over on the math,” he said. “I took the test early December and two weeks later I found out in the middle of class. I told all my friends and I was really happy that day.”
Beaming like a proud father, Wheeler, who also serves as the school district’s information specialist, was thrilled with his mentee’s accomplishment.
“Super smart kid, super nice kid,” said Wheeler. “He’s in the band, IB program, tennis team, great pianist, just an all-around wonderful mentee to have.”
Wheeler said the perfect math score was a goal Gong set early on, and after missing it by one question on his second attempt was committed to success with his third try. For Wheeler, part of being a good mentor is cheering Gong on as he aims for his goals.
“I’ve got two sons and he’s almost like a third son,” said Wheeler. “It’s a fun time and a great relationship.”
With an 89% graduation rate, Flagler Schools and the Flagler County Education Foundation have made an effort to increase opportunities for student success with a myriad of programs, including the Peter & Sue Freytag Take Stock in Children Program (TSIC), over the past decade.
“It’s an amazing program and Flagler County has the best run program in the state,” said Flagler County Education Foundation Executive Director Joe Rizzo.
“We’ve been recognized on the state level for 100% on our score card. (Flagler County Education Foundation assistant director) Becca Bower started the program really putting the pieces in place, and Christie Butler has been running it.” Rizzo said. “But it’s a phenomenal program. In the three years I’ve been here we’ve grown it from 42 kids to 101 kids, and with the help of Peter and Sue Freytag, we’ve really been able to put Take Stock in Children on the map in Flagler County.”
For Gong, the program has been a win in his estimation, helping build a solid foundation for a successful future, including paying for his first two years of college.
“The mentor really helps you stay on track and gives you a really great friendship, second, the money really helps,” he said. “If you’re able to stick through with the scholarship all the way through your high school career, it’s a really going to help you in college.”