Starting something new can often be difficult. And while mentoring is not necessarily difficult to do, the first year of involvement can stretch a volunteer’s commitment. There might be long silences, awkward moments and just unfamiliarity with each other. Every mentor has gone through it. I (and many other mentors) can tell you one of the BEST moments in mentoring is reconnecting at school after the first summer break. A lot of the anxiety goes away and things become routing. You just need to get there though!
But, back to the title of the post – great people. Each year LSS asks school counselors to take a few minutes to write up stories about especially compelling moments they have seen between students and mentors. And there were three first year mentors this year who did not disappoint. We are happy to share these stories with you as short snippets and examples of what mentors all across the community are doing. Hope you enjoy!
Betty Fokken mentors at Oscar Howe. She mentors a first grader who the counselor describes with having a “level of energy that matches his intelligence.” The student was going through some significant changes at home…right before a birthday. Bringing birthday treats to share with your class is a BIG DEAL in elementary school. The student shared this concern with Betty and she went home, made cookies and her mentee passed them out the next day to his class! This is a great example that no matter what might be going on in other parts of a students life, a mentor can be that one stable presence.
Mike Mortland has spent his career working with children. A former teacher and now a school district program trainer, he possesses qualities that every kid would want in their mentor. His student just lights up when Mike comes to visit. In elementary school, energetic boys love recess! Mentoring conflicts with that, but this students teacher truly believes Mike’s mentee would forgo every one of his recess times if he could be with Mike. He makes learning fun and uses each moment to teach his mentee something new.
Terry Wassenaar got involved with mentoring as a way to give back to a school his kids once attended. According to the counselor, it was quite clear from the beginning that Terry and his mentee were a great match. Terry brings special projects that they enjoy together. Just one example is bringing in old crayons that they melted together into a monogram. It is something unique the student was able to create for themselves and take home. Above all, Terry was commended for his innovation, meeting the student where they are at by not forcing any changes and most importantly, being a stable presence for a child who needs that in their life right now.
Thanks for reading and thanks to these mentors for their great stories! Next week, we will share more great stories from our 2015 Outstanding Mentor nominees!