Thursday September 18, 2014
Sixth grader Helena Everse has her priorities straight. On the first day of school, she immediately asked her F.H. Tuttle Middle School teacher Erin Needham: “How will I know when to meet my mentor?”
Helena is a valued member of the SB Mentoring program, a South Burlington School District-based mentoring program that matches caring, respectful adults in the community with wonderful young people in grades K-7 to help students find their “sparks”: their passions and interests. Helena and her mentor Mary Loyer have been meeting since the program began over three years ago, and their favorite activities include art projects from recycled materials, jewelry making, and crafts of all kinds.
Entering its fourth year, SB Mentoring has more than doubled in size since its founding in October 2011. This school year the program will grow to have over 100 participants – mentees and mentors – meeting weekly in Chamberlin, Orchard, Rick Marcotte Central, and F.H. Tuttle Middle School.
“What I enjoy most about mentoring,” reflected mentor Barbara Ziemann, “is that it is definitely a two-way process -- I learn as much from my buddy as she does from me!” Mentor Joann Jarvis agreed and added, “In joining the SB Mentoring program I was looking to help someone find their ‘spark,’ but little did I know my mentee helped ignite mine.”
“Mentoring is a magical experience,” mentor Diane Chattman explained. “One gets to spend time with a great young person in a South Burlington school setting, which is a gift of complete joy in and of itself!”
For mentor Holly Baker, “mentoring is like the coffee break in the middle of a long morning; it is that oasis of refreshment during a long desert trek. No matter what else is happening in my day, I know that I can leave it behind and rejuvenate through the laughter and joy of my young friend. We enjoy creating space and time that is just for play, just for discovery, just for him, just for us.”
Seasoned mentors are essential for recruiting new adults to join SB Mentoring. Mentor Alex Spencer recently reached out to a friend who had “expressed interest in mentoring after he saw me do it for a year and heard about what it was like and how rewarding it is.” Additionally, mentors offer great advice to new participants. Ziemann had the following words of wisdom for potential mentors: “Be patient -- it may take time to build a relationship with your mentee. Don’t let this discourage you or make you feel that you’re doing something wrong. Just hang in there!”
“The time you spend with your mentee,” summed up mentor George Parker, “will be the fastest hour of your week!”
SB Mentoring is currently accepting applications for new mentors to begin in the schools in late October. For further information or to receive an application, please contact SB Mentoring Coordinator Susie Merrick at 238-1054 or email@example.com.