SB Mentoring pair Christopher and Donna Anfuso spend valuable time together each week.  

Shaping Students into Young Leaders

Home » Education » Shaping Students into Young Leaders

Thursday January 12, 2017

What would you do if you moved from Texas to Vermont? How would you choose to acclimate yourself into the South Burlington area? To get more involved in her new community, Donna Anfuso decided to join SB Mentoring after moving here in 2014. Today she meets regularly with a young leader named Christopher at Chamberlin School.

SB Mentoring is a program that was established five years ago and has grown exponentially ever since. With the help of Susie Merrick, the program’s director, it has expanded to include a number of mentoring pairs this year.Mentors volunteer to spend time once a week with the young leaders for the duration of their school careers. This commitment to the students helps create “young leaders in the classroom” and introduces a reliable, trusted adult into their lives.

For Anfuso, it all started with a flyer included in a packet sent home to parents. “I wanted to get my foot in the door with volunteering at the school,” she explained, “and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.” As a children’s yoga instructor with two children of her own, Anfuso had experience and compassion for helping young students, which made her an excellent candidate for SB Mentoring.

Anfuso and Christopher spend one hour together, which is something they look forward to each week. Taking full advantage of the beautiful Vermont fall weather, this young leader has enjoyed playing outside with his mentor. As winter arrives the pair will spend more time in the SB Mentoring clubhouse, a designated room for activities and indoor games. For Christopher, his favorite indoor pastime is turning the main crafts table into a ping-pong game.

This young leader and mentor were paired a year ago when Christopher had just started third grade. Today, after building a trusting relationship with his mentor, Anfuso reports, “he stands up a little bit taller in class” as a confident fourth grader.

This friendship has been described by Merrick as a connection between two “deep water people,” illustrating how thoughtful they are and how they move with a sense of calmness in the world together. The guidance of an additional kindhearted adult in this child’s life has created an impact that will last a lifetime.

Anfuso knows her relationship with Christopher has been mutually beneficial, and she believes the benefits will keep accruing. With mentoring, she notes, “You’re helping these kids become confident leaders in their classroom.”

For more information on how to get involved with SB Mentoring, contact Susie Merrick at or 802-652-7035.

SB Mentoring thanks University of Vermont Professor Joyce Hendley and her students, Jackie Gillen, Erin Hayden, and Annelies van Breen, from the Strategic Writing for Public Communication class, who wrote this article.