Mentor Jan Watt and SB mentoring leader Eunice Agbesi.

Puppet Shows and Clay Houses: The Story of a Friendship

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Thursday January 07, 2016

For Eunice Agbesi, one of the best parts of being a fifth grader at Rick Marcotte Central School (RMCS) is her role as a bus buddy to a kindergartener. “The kindergarteners don’t always know where they’re going because the school is very big,” explained Eunice. “You have to hold their hands so they don’t get lost. I’m a mentor to my bus buddy because I’m a friend.”

Eunice is well acquainted with mentoring since this is her fourth year as a young leader in SB Mentoring. Her own mentor is Jan Watt, a retired University of Vermont cytotechnologist and VNA hospice chaplain who recently celebrated 35 years as a hospice volunteer.

“A mentor for me is being present for somebody,” noted Jan. “Learning all about them and the things they like to do, watching them grow and change.”

Jan celebrates Eunice’s growth over the past three years. She says, “Eunice has the skill to calm people down just by talking to them – and that’s huge. It’s been phenomenal to see the shy little girl I met in second grade growing up to become such a responsible young woman.”

Their friendship journey has been marked by artistic and creative projects, beginning with a puppet show that Eunice first envisioned at the beginning of third grade. “What I remember,” Jan reflected with Eunice, “is that you said to me, ‘I want to do a puppet show,’ and from then on it took on a life of its own.”

The team created felt puppets from scratch, including one to represent Eunice, one for Jan, and one for Jen Belisle, who was Eunice’s classroom teacher at the time. “As the plan grew it became a mentoring show,” Jan explained, “a show about how Eunice started in SB Mentoring.”

“And then last year,” picked up Eunice, “you were asking me if I had any ideas on a second project, and I said, ‘Maybe we can do a clay house.’” Over time, the project developed into an extensive fairy village complete with mushroom houses and tiny people that was displayed in a glass case outside the RMCS library.

When asked what she has learned from her mentor, Eunice responded, “I learned that Jan is really good at making arts and crafts, and sometimes when it comes to games she can’t remember them all.”

“You’ve been very patient to teach me those games a second, third, and fourth time,” smiled Jan. “I know I have learned, even when this young lady was in second grade, how kind and thoughtful and caring she is to others.”

“Having a mentor is a really fun thing because you get to play games, and we’ve done a lot of projects,” summed up Eunice.

“That’s the great thing about mentoring,” added Jan. “You create something between strangers - a bond. Even though our ages are eons apart, we created something: clay houses, puppet show, a friendship. To me that has been great fun.”

SB Mentoring is the school-based mentoring program of the South Burlington School District. For more information, please contact Healthy Schools Coordinator Susie Merrick at