The men of Flagler County’s African American Mentor Program gathered at Hammock Dunes Country Club Tuesday evening to honor and bid farewell to one of their own in every way: Bill Delbrugge, the school superintendent, through whose initiative the mentoring program was born three years ago.
After five years as superintendent and three as principal of Flagler Palm Coast High School before that, next week will be Delbrugge’s last on the payroll of the Flagler County school district. He is resigning in Flagler to take up a post running an international school organization out of Cairo.
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Delbrugge followed up on a proposal by Jim Guines, the former school board member, to create a mentoring program for young black boys who need strong role models in their life. It’s not a big-brother type system where mentors take the students they’re mentoring to baseball games or to the movies once in a while. It’s a serious commitment that requires sustained involvement, through school and electronic communications, to ensure that the students improve whatever behavior or habits has them at risk of straying. The experience can be draining on mentors, many of whom (there are 30 in the group) invest many hours a week in their responsibility. And many of whom have more than one student they’re mentoring. (Read a fuller account of the program here.)
“In his role as superintendent of the Flagler County School District,” John Winston, president of the mentoring program, said Tuesday evening, “Bill Delbrugge has established a track record of superior accomplishment and sterling performance. For the men and women of the African-American mentorship program, Bill has been a beacon of support, encouragement, enlightenment, motivation and sincerity.”
One of Delbrugge’s graduates from a previous school district he oversaw, in Georgia, was, coincidentally, at the event–as Hammock Dunes’ special events coordinator: Jessica Booth, who went to Cass High School in Georgia. It won’t be long before Delbrugge, who’s keeping his house and roots in Palm Coast, will be celebrated at a future function in the presence of former students from Egypt or the rest of the Middle East whom he’d have supervised, and who, one way or another, will eventually find their way to this county. It’s just as likely that Delbrugge will meet in the Middle East some of the former students who’d have graduated through his years in Flagler, among them perhaps some of the students who went through the mentoring program.
“Due to the hard work and dedication of you the mentors,” Winston said, “following Bill’s leadership and training, many of the students we mentor and guide are steadily making great strides in both their academic and moral achievements and development.”