Each week, over 1200 Austin community members meet with students from kindergarten through 12th grade. These mentors are invested in the personal and academic success of their students. Many times, the spotlights are put on the negative situations in our schools. But I am constantly hearing amazing and uplifting stories about the relationships these mentors are building with the children in Austin, and how thrilled they are to see their students grow throughout the year.
This blog is an opportunity to share these success stories with the world! My hope is that the mentors in Austin will be able to share in each other’s successes, and just might encourage someone else to become a part of this growing community.
School started today and the mentors are very eager to see their students again. But before classes even began, and before I even sent out a request for submissions, I received the e-mail below from one of the sweetest mentors I know. I remember last year, I received a call from this mentor right after I sent out our monthly updates. She told me that she was concerned about something I said in my e-mail. I quickly pulled up the letter and scanned it for something that could have been interpreted the wrong way. She said “You thanked the mentors for all the hard work we’ve done this year. And I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t done any work at all. All I’ve done is have fun!”
A Mentor’s Testimonial
After receiving excellent training in how to be a mentor and being apprised of the many ways that mentees gain from the experience, I felt assured that I could fulfill the duties of a mentor. But, when I actually became a mentor, I was surprised and delighted that the mentee would not be the only one to gain. I, the mentor, would also benefit by becoming more knowledgeable. I learned from my mentee as well as mentoring her. She shared with me the way she ensured that she would manage to remember important things. And I was gratified by her concern for me.
We met over lunch once a week. One day she informed me, “You don’t eat enough.”
“Hold it, ” I thought,” Which one of us is the mentor?”
Just being present in the school with all its activities was energizing. I had the good luck of meeting some of the wonderful, dedicated teachers.
And the children! What a treat it was to observe children of various ethnicities and races learning, playing, and working together peacefully and enjoyably . I was inspired and became a hopeful optimist that the world could become a better place.
I also could view the displays the children made on a variety of subjects, the last one being “Oceans.” I was amazed at the creativity and talent the children demonstrated. When I asked my mentee to show me what her class contributed, she took me to her classroom to see for myself : “The Seashore.” While there, she proudly introduced me to her teacher and her classmates, one of whom asked her whether I was her grandmother. Naturally, she answered, “No.” But I felt that in a way, we were in a family relationship.
I could go on and on about what I liked about being a mentor. But I invite you to see for yourself.
On the last day of the school term, she told me, “I’ll never forget you.” Priceless!
In conclusion, if you want to add excitement, meaning and value to your life, the answer if very simple, “Become a mentor.” You’ll be glad if you do.