Taysean and Jason McGahey take a moment from their SB Mentoring activity of sock collection this winter.

Mentors Build Friendships

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Thursday January 15, 2015

From Sports Field to School Building: Mentoring Team Finds Meaning in Friendship

When asked what he liked best about having his former baseball coach as his mentor in SB Mentoring, Taysean Metz smiled and responded, “We still have fun with each other. He still teaches me.”

Taysean, a fourth grader at Orchard School, and resident Jason McGahey are one of the fifty mentee-mentor teams in SB Mentoring, the South Burlington School District’s school-based mentoring program. The mission of SB Mentoring is to allow young people to find their “sparks”: their passions and interests. Research shows that young people who pursue these sparks and have a mentor to help them make better decisions in their lives as they grow older. For Taysean and Jason, those sparks have not been hard to find.

“We both like sports,” explained Taysean. “We play ping pong, basketball, baseball. We talk about football and how my day is going.”

Taysean – who describes his mentor as “playful, funny, and nice” -- sees value in the SB Mentoring program: “It gets me relaxed for the rest of my school day and relaxes Jason so he doesn’t have to worry so much about work – he can just have fun with me.”

“I have a busy life,” admitted Jason, who, in addition to being a South Burlington professional, loves spending time with his family and is active in coaching youth sports teams.

“Aside from helping me with my ping pong serve,” laughed Jason, “Taysean does help me relax. We have fun together, and I wouldn’t have a chance to do something like this otherwise during the work day.”

Taysean’s teacher Sarah Vachereau also recognizes the value of the friendship: “I love seeing how excited Taysean gets when Jason comes! They really seem to make a great match.”

“The only skill you need to become a mentor is the willingness to participate,” Jason observed. “Everyone has a common interest. Taysean and I both happen to like sports, so that bonded us right away. Some people might bond over music, literature, art, math. Even Taysean and I are still getting to know each other. For all I know Taysean might be a brilliant artist. I just haven’t explored that with him yet.”

As for Taysean, he stated, “I would encourage kids to get a mentor.”

“What I’ve observed,” concluded Jason, “is that all of the people who are participating in SB Mentoring seem to be having fun. If mentors want to get involved, the important thing is feeling like you have the interest because you can always make the time.”

As the community launches into 2015, SB Mentoring is grateful for dedicated people like Taysean and Jason making the time to have fun while building and sustaining the program.

For more information on SB Mentoring, please contact coordinator Susie Merrick at 238-1054 or smerrick@sbschools.net.

SOURCE: Susie Merrick, SB Mentoring Coordinator