No headline can capture the impact of becoming a mentor to a child. On Tuesday, January 27, 2015 from 6:00-7:30 pm at the Wyoming Library (3350 Michael Ave. SW) mentors with One Wyoming 1 on 1 will share their experiences in a new mentor training session.
However, many adults have two big questions about mentoring: The first is the fear that we don’t have enough time. The second involves questions like “What will we talk about?” or “I don’t know enough to help with homework,” or “What if the child has problems I can’t deal with?”
You are invited to learn that every one of your questions has an answer, plus the time requirements are minimal – you won’t believe what you can accomplish in 15 minutes! Adults take for granted the benefits the child enjoys – special attention, help with classwork, getting out of class when you visit! I promise your life will be immeasurably enriched by the very special moments you share with the children fate chooses us to mentor.
I know the questions, the concerns and the rewards because for the past four years, I’ve been a mentor to Amber. When we met, she was 11 years old, a 6th grader who was struggling academically and socially. Her future was charting toward failure; everyone in her life was concerned.
As a former teacher, I didn’t have too many fears about interacting with a child I had never met before. On the other hand, I had never taught in middle school. I had absolutely no clue about today’s social pressures beyond hazy memories of my own checkered journey through popularity, puberty, and academic performance. I assumed the negatives would be more intense today and I worried I wouldn’t be up to meeting Amber’s needs.
Ultimately, Amber’s needs were very simple – to be encouraged, listened to, and to be there when I said I would; someone she could count on. This is not to say that nobody else met those needs for Amber. We just talked about what she wanted to talk about: what made her mad, who wanted to fight her, teachers she didn’t like, course work she hated. Every once in a while, I would ask her a question: “Do you want every day of your life to be like this?” And she would pause…..
And in that moment of hesitation, the world changes for the child. Then you listen some more. That’s my take on mentoring. I’m sure there are many other versions of the same journey the child takes to becoming a young adult: The escape from anger and frustration to seeing the world filled with choices, each that has fairly predictable consequences.
Today Amber is fifteen, a freshman in high school who has overcome enormous challenge. She faces more ahead, but we are both confident of her future success – college, a career, and a life of smart choices.
Neither of us can imagine life without each other now, which is a huge bonus I never expected. Not everyone will form life-long attachments with the children we mentor. Most relationships involve short visits at the child’s school. But as I followed Amber through 6th grade, I knew I wanted to stick with her, to support the gains she was making. Plus, she’s a terrific kid! Gutsy, smart, with a great sense of humor.
By the time Amber left 8th grade, here is an excerpt of a letter she wrote to the teachers at her school. “All of you have taught me things through my 2 years of coming here that I will never forget. I will carry on everything that you taught me, because it wasn’t just school work, it was about life and how to take what comes at you.” Eventually Amber and I journeyed to the day when she asked me, “So what do you want the rest of your life to be about?” I invite you to consider what you want your life to be about. For me, mentoring has supplied an important part of the answer.
You will meet many mentors with wonderful stories at the One Wyoming 1 on 1 mentor training session. Invite a friend. Refreshments will be served! Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org