Spotlight on Mentors
January is National Mentoring Month
January is National Mentoring Month, and the Griffin Spalding Mentor Program would like to highlight the work of our volunteer mentors. Mentoring is a rewarding experience that can have lasting, positive impacts on the lives of the mentors as well as the students they are mentoring. We asked our mentors to share why they began mentoring, some of their experiences, and why they would encourage others to mentor. Continue reading below to learn what mentoring means to the mentors, their inspiration for mentoring, and why you should consider becoming a mentor.
"It's so important for a young person to feel that there's someone that'll listen and guide them."
David is in his sixth year of mentoring the same student. He has always felt a desire to teach and influence kids, saying, "It's so important for a young person to feel that there's someone that'll listen and guide them." David said that mentoring has been one of the most rewarding experiences of his life and that kids are craving the attention of responsible people. Making an impact on a child's life is so satisfying.
Phyllis is in her fourth school year of mentoring. When asked why she decided to mentor, Phyllis said, "I had an unofficial mentor in high school who played a key role in shaping me into the person I am today. I wanted to pay it forward and hopefully make the same impact for a young person." One of Phyllis' most memorable moments was when she and her mentee had a "virtual" Christmas party, singing carols and reading, "The Night Before Christmas." Her mentee still talks about that, three years later and they have continued that tradition. This year, the two of them are creating a travel book. The mentee shares updates with her classmates and her mother after each mentoring session. Phyllis adds, "You can't beat the feeling of joy you get when you see the smile on your student's face because they are happy to see you!"
"You just never know whose life you could change, just by being present."
Tanya is a new mentor who has only been mentoring for six months. She became a mentor so that her mentee could have someone they could feel safe with. She looks forward to see the smile on her mentee's face each week and to hearing how the mentee's week has been. Tanya says that a mentor should be patient, understanding, nurturing, open-minded, passionate, loyal, dedicated, loving, and caring.
Melinda has mentored for the past two years. She mentors students at Jackson Road Elementary, Orrs Elementary, and Kennedy Road Middle schools. She decided to mentor during her retirement as an opportunity to give back. She has been blessed with many mentors during her life. She loves working with students and families and considers it an honor to get to know each of them. Melinda indicates that her best days mentoring are when her scholars are happy to see her. When asked about her most memorable experiences mentoring, she stated that she was "invited to one of my mentee's softball games" and "when parents contact me asking for assistance..." Melinda enjoys mentoring and advises others to get involved as "mentoring is so rewarding! You get an opportunity to change a child's life for the better, learn something new and make a difference in the world."
Marva is an educator by profession who has over forty years of experience working with students in various educational capacities. She has been a mentor volunteer for the last six years. She has mentored the same student during this time. Marva and her mentee always work on a yearly project during their mentor sessions. In the past, they have completed dream books, bracelets, a math fun activity book, and other projects. During the project work, they have fun as well as engage in meaningful conversations. She and her mentee completed a throw blanket this year and her mentee was very proud of her work and accomplishment! Marva believes that mentors should be warm, understanding, and flexible. She states, "Many times you have to keep from being judgemental and more supportive. Having someone to talk to without criticism." She believes that students need the support of adults who are not part of their family or school life. Marva recommends that adults become involved in mentoring, stating "you would be surprised how much you have to offer."
"Often we complain about today's youth, but we do nothing to give back or rectify the issues we have with youth."
LaQuita began mentoring in early December and she believes everyone should be involved in mentoring someone. She states, "often we complain about today's youth, but we do nothing to give back or rectify the issues we have with youth." She believes that anytime she gets to spend with her mentee is a good day. LaQuita has mentored and worked with young people in various capacities and enjoys getting to know not only the students but also their families. She has had the pleasure of keeping in touch with her mentees after their graduation. LaQuita says that "compassion, patience and being community oriented" are important traits for mentors. She would like for others to become involved with mentoring students and making a difference in the community.
Warren became a mentor because of the mentors he had in his life. He also sees the need for mentors in the community. He has mentored the same student for the last four years. Warren states, "My best day mentoring has to be the day when you finally have that break through. When you see your mentee start to open up and share. When he begins to listen, laugh and wants to learn." Warren shared that one of the most memorable experiences was when he was able to attend an award ceremony and see his mentee's face light up as he was cheered for his award. From his experience, Warren advises that a mentor should listen as well as have patience, as students sometimes have a lot to say about things that are important to them. When asked why others should be involved in mentoring, he states, "For me getting involved in mentoring is not what people probably think it is. It is simply showing up and being present. That in itself is what makes a difference in a child's life."
"Oh, I get it!"
John became a mentor with the Griffin Spalding Mentor Program six years ago because he saw the opportunity to encourage as well as nurture a child in the school system. He indicates that the most memorable experience has been those, "breakthrough moments. Hearing my student say, 'Oh, I get it!'" John advises that mentors should be enthusiastic, flexible, a good listener, caring, and have patience. When asked why others should get involved in mentoring students, John responded, "so many students are in need of one on one attention and support. To make a difference in a child's life by mentoring is so needed in our school system. Giving back to the community is such a rewarding feeling that you will experience."
Erin began mentoring with the Griffin Spalding Mentor Program three years ago through a Public Safety Mentoring initiative. She mentors two students in two different schools. Erin is a dedicated mentor who advises that, "Consistency is most important! In addition to that patience, an open mind while maintaining boundaries." She further states that "mentoring is an amazing experience! It connects you to the community and the opportunity to engage with the youth."
Linda became a mentor because she has prior experience tutoring and enjoys working with students. She said that she had wonderful role models growing up and wants to give back by making a difference in the life of a young person. She has mentored the same student for six years. Linda believes that her best days mentoring are the ones where she sees her mentee having fun and where they are both learing something from each other. She states, "I love hearing her tell me about the good decisions that she has made." While Linda has many memorable experiences with her student, several stand out, including: when her mentee lead the Pledge of Allegiance at a ceremony where she was recognized as Student of the Month, seeing her mentee in person for the first time after two years of virtual meetings during the pandemic, and seeing her now high school student in her JROTC uniform lead middle school students on a school tour. When asked why others should become a mentor, Linda responded, "Others should get involved in mentoring because they have life experiences that can help someone chart a course for a successful future. It is an opportunity to make a positive difference in the life of a young person who may need guidance and encouragement from someone other than a parent or guardian."
"The primary quality of a mentor is humility."
Zachary has mentored for the Griffin Spalding Mentor Program for the last two years. While Griffin is his hometown, he spend many years of his professional career in Colorado. Upon retirement, he and his wife moved back to his hometown where he immediately became involved with many non-profits and volunteer opportunities. When asked about his best day mentoring, Zachary responded, "I enjoy Mondays most because it's the start of the week, and I always begin my sessions with discussions about the weekend." He believes that parents and volunteers need to provide support to educators in preparing children for the future. Zachary states, "By far, the primary quality of a mentor is 'humility.' With humility a person displays wisdom, discerment, and all the traits necessary to be successful not just as a mentor but as a human being."
Dora has mentored for the last four months after praying about wanting to make a difference in the life of a young lady. She states that the most memorable experience has been, "seeing her smile and ask good questions." She further states that her best day mentoring is when she can see that she is making a difference. A positive outlook is an important trait for a mentor. When asked why others should be involved in mentoring, Dora said, "The younger generation needs to have some Christian role models in their lives."
"There are so many students who are in need of support..."
Joanne has mentored for the last two years because she saw an opportunity to provide academic and social emotional support for students to assist them in making good personal as well as academic decisions. She describes her best day mentoring, "when my mentee explained how she was able to better handle a difficult situation based on discussions we had about making good choices and practicing strategies." Joanne explains that she is thankful that she could be there for her mentee following the tornadoes that hit Griffin in 2023 as the student's home was damaged. Her student was grateful to have an adult to discuss the difficulties and disruptions that she was experiencing following this disaster. Joanne futher explains that it is important for mentors to have patience and be good listeners, but consistently being there for the student is most important as it makes them feel safe knowing they can trust you and count on you being there for them. When asked why others should consider mentoring, Joanne replied, "There are so many students who are in need of support and there are not currently enough adults to help them. The benefit for the student is they get an advocate and for the mentor it makes you feel like you are making a difference."
Jametria is a professional educator as well as a volunteer mentor. She has mentored with the Griffin Spalding Mentor Program for the last three years. She states that her best days mentoring are "when my mentee feels comfortable asking questions." She shared that one of her most memorable experiences was "when I mentored a group of girls [Beyond Self Program] and they recongnized their shirts and crowns." Jametria believes that mentors need to be understanding, great communicators, have excellent listening skills, and be role models.
Beyond Self is a group mentoring program started by David. David began in one school with a group of young men, but the program has grown to serve three schools and is hoping to add more. Currently, at A.Z. Kelsey Academy, one male mentor meets with 57 students and two female mentors meet with 48 students. At Rehoboth Middle School we have one male and one female mentor, each meeting with 12 students. The program is looking to expand into the high schools, Carver Road Middle, Cowan Road Middle, and Kennedy Road Middle Schools.
Union Baptist Equestrian Mentors
The Griffin Spalding Mentor Program started a new mentoring group this school year in collaboration with Union Baptist Church. This is an equestrian program that uses interaction with horses to mentor young people. There are now 47 mentors working with 19 students in this program.