After meeting Jayda and Brenda, it is easy to see they compliment each other well. They like to talk, so there is never a lack of conversation between the two. But most notable is the calm, consistent and encouraging demeanor Brenda comes with each week that balances Jayda’s seemingly boundless energy.
The two were matched a few years ago. Brenda, who has been mentoring since at least 1998, has worked with many students through the years. She loves the students and environment at Hawthorne Elementary and has mentored there for much of the last 18 years.”This is the best lunch of my week,” said Brenda. “I get to spend time with someone special. Jayda is always so welcoming of me and gives lots of smiles and hugs.”
“I really like when she is here,” said Jayda. “It is super fun. We talk about our weekend, we do craft projects that I can give to my friends or teachers or family.”
At Hawthorne, reading is a key part of their mentor program. Mentors and students read together three weeks out of the month and have one week to play board games, do a craft project or whatever they choose. Brenda commented that she has really seen an improvement in Jayda’s reading this year. Jayda confirmed that by saying she recently reached a new level.
While reading is a focus, it is the relationship between mentor and student that makes it work. “Brenda is a special kind of mentor,” said Jayda. “If I get sad I sometimes think of Brenda and smile.”
And after 18 years of mentoring, it is the relationship that keeps Brenda coming week after week. “Mentoring is a special bond,” said Brenda. “Even if you have kids of your own, it is very different relationship. After mentoring, I always go back to work feeling good.”