Attention, Dell Rapids! We need more mentors!

June 9, 2017

When LSS Mentoring expanded to the Dell Rapids School District in 2011, Jill Hansen was one of the first volunteers to sign up. She attended a Try-It session at the school and was hooked right away.

“My kids were growing up and graduating, so I wanted to still be involved in the school,” said Jill. “This is easy to do and I like that I can have a positive influence on children other than my own. It helps keep me young too!”

Jill has been meeting with Adisen for the past two years. She was matched with her when her first student moved out of the district. Adisen, who is in 6th grade this year has enjoyed having a mentor. “It’s really fun,” said Adisen. “Everyone should have someone to talk to who is not their family or a teacher or counselor.”

The two meet every week and typically play games. They are especially fond of Racko. A time that stands out is when the conference room was in use and they met on the stage. They played tag and had a great time pretending to act and perform. They also did a taste test of Kit-Kat bars – one bought locally and one bought in Canada. They concluded that not all Kit_Kat bars are equal and there is a difference!

Most of all, they both seem to enjoy the conversations. “She is always telling me to never give up and to keep smiling. She is encouraging and tells me to do my best,” said Adisen.

Both Jill and Adisen would like to see more mentor matches in Dell Rapids. “This does not take a lot of time,” said Jill. “You don’t need to be a teacher to be able to relate to kids, you just need to spend time.” And Adisen agrees. As far as student needs go, she said, “You don’t need to have a big problem in life to have a mentor. We could all use someone else to talk to.”


Randy Bury and Moises

May 12, 2017

Randy Bury and his student, Moises, are nearing the end of their involvement in LSS Mentoring Services programming. The two have been matched since Moises was a

Randy and Moises participated in a panel discussion at the 2017 Mentor Appreciation Breakfast.

2nd grader at Hawthorne and next month, Moises will graduate high school. While their involvement in the program is over, their relationship is far from it.

“We have a friendship now and we don’t see this as participating in a program,” said Randy. “Going into mentoring I expected it to run its course but I am glad we have continued.”

When they first started meeting, Randy and Moises read together – primarily Scooby Doo books! Today, they enjoy discussions on social policy, physics and like a good Civil War debate.

Moises says he thinks his life would be “very different” if he had not met Randy. “It would be odd,” said Moises. “Meeting with him every week is very routine now.” Moises said he has enjoyed getting to know Randy and sharing stories together, saying that Randy always offers a story that helps Moises with whatever he has going on in his life.

Randy knows it has made an impact on him and he has gotten a lot out of mentoring. He did express what almost every mentor says or feels and that is if it is making a difference for the student. He said, “the value of mentoring can be hard to see when it’s right in front of you. But, if you go back to the research that is evidence based, you know mentoring makes a difference.”

We at LSS can clearly see that Randy and Moises will be friends well beyond graduation and they are more than mentor and student. Matches working out this well and this long are what we hope for everyone in the program, and we love to share examples like this.


Better Together Match!

May 3, 2017

Meet Carol and Norma. They have been meeting through the LSS Better Together program for over a year now and have both loved their time together!

Norma is 93 and lives independently in a senior living apartment complex. She attended a presentation about Better Together and signed up on the spot.

Carol is mostly retired after her daughters took responsibility for their family business. She moved to Sioux Falls about five years ago and is glad she made a friend in Norma. Carol’s parents are in their 90’s and live in Nebraska, so she is not able to see them every week. She also worked in nursing homes when she was younger and has always enjoyed being around senior citizens.

“Norma remembers everything,” said Carol. “I love it when she talks about how the city has changed and grown in her lifetime. Since I have met with her, I have learned a lot about Sioux Falls.” They drive around town and Norma talks about what used to be where and showed Carol the area of town where she lived most of her life.

Norma also shares about her life. She was married 55 years and just welcomed her 20th great-grandchild. She worked at John Morrell’s during World War 2 and then went on to work part-time at Sears and stayed home to raise her children.

Their favorite thing to do is to share a meal and talk. “I call her every Sunday night and we make a plan for the week,” said Carol. “She is really good about knowing what she would like to eat and trying new restaurants, so I pick that up and bring it to her and we eat together and just talk.” Carol spends the winter months in Florida. During that time, she is able to call her every week to check in. She said they talk about the weather and Norma gives her an update on what is going on in Sioux Falls. Norma is still able to attend the monthly Better Together activities to stay connected with the program even when she is not able to meet face to face.

“We have so much in common that we both feel lucky to be matched with each other,” said Norma. “It doesn’t seem to take long for two or three hours to go by when she comes to visit!”

Norma loves baseball and is an avid Twins fan. She loves Brian Dozier at the moment and never misses watching a game on TV. She is a night owl, so stays up and watches games to the end and most often eats a bag of popcorn while she watches the game. When the Cubs won the World Series last year, Carol called Norma late into the night when the game was over and they celebrated the big win!

They are excited about getting together this summer and are especially looking forward to the Better Together picnic in June. This friendship is one that would not have been likely had it not been for this program. Carol and Norma are so thankful for the opportunity to know and learn from one another with Better Together.


School Attendance and Student Behavior Training Opportunities

April 27, 2017

LSS Mentoring Services invites people to join us for two training opportunities in May.

On Monday, May 8, Traci Jensen will talk about how schools respond to attendance issues. Traci works in Student Support Services for the Sioux Falls School District. When a student is identified as having attendance issues, a team of professionals work together to get students to school. Traci will also share what the role of Social Workers in the schools and what students needs are. Please Please email us at Mentoring@LssSD.org or call 444-7803 to RSVP for this session on May 8, 12-1 PM at LSS, 705 E 41st Street.

The second training in May will focus on student behavior. On May 17, Paula Terpstra, Counselor at Horace Mann will present on student behavior. She will focus on elementary aged children and will talk about the Boys Town Model for managing challenging behaviors. The model relies on healthy relationships for children at school as well as explicit teaching of social skills. The model has been used for more than 30 years by Boys Town and has been used in the Sioux Falls School District for the past few years. Please email us at Mentoring@LssSD.org or call 444-7803 to RSVP for this session on May 17 at Horace Mann Elementary, 1401 E 26th Street.


2017 Mentor Breakfast Recap

April 21, 2017

This week we celebrated mentors with our annual LSS Mentor Appreciation Breakfast. It was an amazing event and as always, reinforced the importance of mentoring. We owe thanks to the sponsors of the event – First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard, Citibank, Sanford Health and Wells Fargo.

Mentors were welcomed with tables full of artwork and thank you cards made by students in the program. The notes were both heartwarming and funny. We will share more in a later post, but here is what just a few of them said:

Thank you for being my mentor. You are an awesome person to be with and talk to. I’m glad they picked you to be with me.

You have been the best mentor ever and it has been really fun spending time with you. You da boom!!!!

My mentor is a pretty cool guy and school would not be the same without him.

This year, the keynote was a panel that included Randy Bury, a longtime mentor; Moises Perez Quentanilla, a senior at Lincoln High School who has met with Randy for the past 11 years and Kerri Cox, the school counselor at Robert Frost Elementary. They shared great perspective and insight on mentoring and what it means to them. Kerri shared the many amazing moments she has been part of through mentoring. One of the most meaningful ones she shared was that a mentor went on to adopt his student. She also said how creative mentors are when they visit each week and that some people just love the break and the opportunity to just sit a color or play a board game in the middle of the day. Randy talked about how much Moises has grown. They recently went car shopping and Randy helped Moises pick out a new car. Moises shared that Randy is a terrible bowler and that he knows his life would be different if Randy was not part of it.

The event concluded with the presentation of the Outstanding Mentor, Outstanding Rookie and Community Partner Awards. Congratulations to Curt Lauret, Trey Townsend and Hegg Realtors for their accomplishments!

Trey came to mentor at Edison through an Augustana University education class in Spring 2016. Most of college students who are required to mentor only stay for the semester, but Trey wanted to stay with Gio and continue mentoring on his own. When Trey and Gio get together the room literally feels brighter and lighter. There is definitely a connection there that really works.

Curt has been a mentor for over 10 years. He has been mentoring the same student since he was a second grader and will continue to meet with him next year as he goes to middle school. Curt has been dependable, meeting his student where he is at and looking at what his needs are every week.

Just one year ago, Susan B. Anthony Elementary and Hegg formed a school/business partnership. The school relies on Hegg for help with unmet needs for their students, families as well as the school as a whole. When forming this partnership, the school stressed the need for more mentors for their students. At the end of last school year, there were about 20 mentors for Susan B. students. Right now, there are 40 thanks to the partnership with Hegg. There are currently 23 Hegg employees who mentor every week. Congratulations, Hegg and thank you for making mentoring a priority for your employees.

A big thanks to the Sioux Falls School District Community Relations team for creating the videos! It was a wonderful surprise to mentors at the breakfast and a great treat to hear from students who really enjoy their mentor.

As we wrap up the 2016-17 school year, LSS would like to sincerely thank all mentors who gave their time and energy each week!

Post By Michelle Madsen


Outstanding Mentors 2017

April 18, 2017

LSS celebrates mentors by hosting a Mentor Appreciation Breakfast each April. This year, the event is set for Wednesday, April 19, 7:30-8:30 AM at The District.

At the event, mentors who have made extraordinary contributions are honored as Outstanding Mentors. Here is the list for 2017:

Lynn Bren, Mentor at Harrisburg High School, Employed at Claims Associates
Lynn has demonstrated her investment to her student and the mentor program through her consistency and dedication. Lynn utilizes her outgoing personality to connect with her student, and she manages to get him talking even though freshmen boys can be resistant to opening up. She utilizes creative techniques to understand the things happening in her students life through various questioning strategies as well as focusing on the student’s needs rather than her own agenda. She is persistent and positive and a great resource for her student.

Eric Erickson, Mentor at Hayward Elementary, Employed at SDN Communications
The Point is to Serve has partnered with Hayward for a number of years. One of the many ways they help is by encouraging members to mentor students at the school. Eric enthusiastically took that challenge several years ago. It has been thrilling to watch his relationship with his student blossom. The match has a lot of fun together and Eric teaches and models how to be a person of integrity. He student says, “He is always nice to people. He doesn’t yell. He helps me with reading, writing and math. He is a REALLY nice guy!”

Jill Hansen, Mentor at Dell Rapids Middle School, Employed at BX Civil and Construction
Every time Jill and her student together, it is evident they are having a great time! Jill is always respectful of her student and speaks in a way that matches her students maturity level. She is a very consistent volunteer too! Her student says, “I like how Jill always smiles, even on her bad days. She is always respectful of me and is good at finding a way to make me feel better even when she doesn’t know what is going on.” Her student loves having Jill as her mentor and often says that everyone should have someone in their life that isn’t family or teachers to talk to – someone like Jill.

Pam Harris, Mentor at Harrisburg South Middle School, Retired
Pam is an outstanding mentor for many reasons. Her student looks forward to Pam’s visits with excitement and joy. Her student can be a bit choosy about who she befriends, but once she connects with someone, she is fiercely loyal. Pam has been the perfect match for her student – able to provide that consistent support and kindness for years. Pam has show over and over how loving and selfless she can be. She is really something special to her student.

Jennifer Hintz, Mentor at Robert Frost Elementary, Sioux Falls Lutheran School
Jennifer found out about mentoring through social media. She has been mentoring for over two years and is a consistent and loving presence in her student’s life. Jennifer offers sincerity, steadfast support and deep level of caring when she mentors. She shows up and is fully present for her student each week. Her student has experienced many important losses – leaving school and mentoring as the two constants in their life.

Curt Lauret, Mentor at Laura B. Anderson Elementary, Employed at Wells Fargo
Curt has been a mentor for over ten years, and has been with the same student the past five years. His student says, “He is always very respectful and pushes me to do my best. I know he really cares about me when he gives me fist bumps when our mentor time is coming to an end.” With Curt’s steadiness and encouragement, his student has learned to be able to be more confident in the decisions that he needs to make.

Shirley Leach, Mentor at John Harris Elementary, Retired
Shirley focuses on being a consistent, positive and focused person in her students life. She truly wants to get to know her student better with each visit she makes. She is always looking for new ways to be a better mentor for her student. Most importantly, Shirley is adaptable – she has worked to grow with her student and find ways to meet the student where she is at.

Shane Matthys, Mentor at Memorial Middle School, Employed at Astrazeneca
Since he first met his student, Shane has been supportive and encouraging. He always wants to know how best to support his student and makes an effort not to miss a week of mentoring. His student cites Shane’s easy going nature as one of his favorite things about him. His student went on to say, “He’s been very helpful and we can talk about problems. He’s kind of like a friend to all.”

Mary Nelson, Mentor at Dell Rapids Elementary, Employed at Dell Rapids School District
Mary is committed and comes with a ready and willing heart to serve and care for her student. She is reliable, shows genuine concern for her student , is flexible and seems to really enjoy her time at the school each week. Mary’s personality and ability to relate well to others have been important trails that she has role modeled for her student. She is such a natural as a volunteer and has the true heart of a mentor.

Crystal Nesburg, Mentor at Dell Rapids Elementary, Employed at Citibank
Crystal is always smiling and genuinely loves mentoring! She is trustworthy and reliable in her commitment to volunteer. She makes her student feel so great! Her student has improved in their confidence, self-control, maturity in relationships with others and their ability to carry out positive behaviors.

Jan Noer, Mentor at Eugene Field, Retired
Jan is a very caring and special person. She is very involved in her dedication to mentoring and has helped her student in many ways. She mentors a very smart student who sometimes struggles with behavior. Her student is always on their best behavior with her and loves their time together. Jan is a very important person to her student.

Debbie Olson, Mentor at George McGovern Middle School, Employed at Sanford
Debbie has a great balance of being both nurturing and pragmatic. She has been with er student every step of the way, including following them to four different schools. Debbie has mentored for seven years. Although she has a very full and busy life, she has made her student a priority and has never wavered from her commitment. She is an example of someone who has come along side a child with the hope of truly making a difference in their life.

Cinda Ortman, Mentor at New Tech High, Retired
Cinda is consistent, committed and flexible. Her student trusts her and loves that Cinda is supportive and kind. Her student says, “She is always trying to make sure that we have time together every week. She is kind and thoughtful. She talks to me and listens to what I have to say.”

Zachary Seefeldt, Mentor at JFK, Employed at Southeastern Behavioral
Zachary exemplifies the meaning of a mentor and his relationship with her student is the perfect model of what mentoring can do for a child. When first asking for a mentor, Zachary’s student requested someone who liked Star Wars and sports. His student has shown great emotional growth – much of which is attributed to his friendship with Zachary. His student says, “Zach is really nice, not rude and has lots of friends…he encourages me to stay out of trouble and get help when I need it.”

Carol Twedt, Mentor at Susan B. Anthony Elementary, Retired
Carol’s student was difficult to build a relationship with when they first started meeting three years ago. He was guarded and made her prove that she was going to be a trusting adult. The first day mentors could visit this year, her student was so excited that he ran up to her and hugged her so tightly! They just picked up their relationship right where they left off last spring. Her student is now one that does not get in trouble at school and is more respectful, engaged in learning and puts forth effort.

Bob Wendland, Mentor at Eugene Field, Employed at Washington Pavilion
Bob is a very pleasant person and brings the arts into his time with his student. At one point this year, he mentored two students. He is very consistent and caring with his students. He puts other before him, especially the students he mentors. His student can sometimes struggle with behavior. He was able to quickly build a relationship with this student and enjoys his time with Bob. It is great that Bob can be a much needed male role model for this student.


An Early Impact – Meet Outstanding Rookie Mentors

March 20, 2017

All mentors are outstanding in the eyes of the student that they meet with each week. Today we would like to share about a few who are making a big impact early in their mentoring relationship. School counselors get to see mentors and students interact, and every so often, they witness mentors with an extra special commitment…a touching moment…and whose sheer presence absolutely makes that student light up. Please take a moment to learn a little more about the 2017 Outstanding Rookie Mentors.

Linda
Linda was very good at gathering information to help her be successful as a mentor. She approached mentoring as something that should be fun, but also a serious responsibility. Linda was matched with a young student who moved away after just a few months of meeting her. As is typical, there was a possibility of the student returning to the community, so Linda decided to wait it out. She brought cards to school to be mailed to the student and always let the student know that she was thinking of her. When it became apparent the student was not returning to Sioux Falls, Linda was matched with another student. This student is so excited each week when Linda comes to visit.

Manuel
Manuel just started his second year of mentoring this fall. He was anxious to get started as his student was entering middle school. He has an amazing relationship with his student. They play basketball, football or just chat. Manuel is willing to do exactly what his student needs and craves. He is reliable and has never missed a session. Manuel brings a great positive attitude that has made a different to his student.

Trey
Previously, students at Augustana were required to mentor as part of a class. Most of those mentors only stay for their required time. Trey was one of those students, but unlike most of his classmates, he was able to make mentoring work in his very busy schedule. And by busy schedule, he is taking 22 credits and pursing two – possibly three – majors. He and his student formed a great connection that really works. From appearances, Trey and his student are opposites. However, they have been a perfect match. His student has shown great maturity in the past year and attributes that to his mentor. He is able to easily talk to adults and is very polite – a skill taught to him by Trey.

Doug
Last year Oak Hills Baptist Church did a call for mentors and Doug answered the call. Doug has a knack for making everyone around him feel comfortable. He right away made an instant connection with his student. Doug’s student says, “Doug is my friend and helps me. He comes and sees me almost every week. It is fun to hang out with him. We laugh, play games and he is just there for me. I have several siblings at home so it is not always about me. I always feel good when I see Doug.”


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