Do the students choose to be in the mentor program?
Students are selected for the program based on teacher and counselor recommendations and with parent permission. Some youth in the program do not believe they are capable of success in school nor do they see the value in education. Many are making risky choices. Some just simply need the support of an adult friend who is not their parent, teacher, or counselor.
Students can decide to continue/discontinue their mentor match as they feel necessary. Many mentor/student matches develop a strong friendship and carry on their relationship for years.
- I like to travel and go out of town during the winter months. Can I still mentor?
There are many different ways to mentor. A number of mentors travel out of state on vacation or live elsewhere during the winter months. Many mentors choose to continue their mentoring relationship by letter or email. Students continue to benefit from this long distance relationship. When mentors return to the area, they reunite with their mentor student. For example, one mentor of our mentors was gone for several months during the winter and left her mentor student a treat bag. The student would go and pick out a treat at the day and time she and her mentor usually met. There are many ways to continue the "connection" with a student despite your physical absence. The mentor staff and guidance counselors are always available to give helpful ideas.
- What happens if my schedule changes and I can't mentor during my scheduled time?
It's not uncommon to have a schedule change without notice. If your schedule changes and you are unable to mentor, simply call the school and inform the office personnel or guidance counselor of your inability to meet. They will contact your student and inform him/her of your schedule change. Perhaps it would be easier to reschedule and meet on another day. The important thing is to make your mentor student aware of your absence. One of the four rules of the mentor program is to be dependable. Many of the children in the mentor program have been let down numerous times. The mentor program strives to create a dependable and trustworthy relationship between student and mentor. Earning a child's trust is hard and often difficult to rebuild.
- Can I meet with my student outside of school or off school grounds?
No. One of our "4 rules" is to MEET ONLY AT THE SCHOOL during the school day. We have two good reasons for insisting you follow this rule: First, many students do not like school, have little success with school, or are not well accepted. Our experience shows that meeting with a mentor is the highlight of the week for some of the students. In many cases, a students' attendance has improved because he/she knows the mentor will be there. Second, there are liability issues with meeting off of school grounds. This rule not only protects the student, but it also protects the Mentor and the Mentor Program. Meeting at other sites increases the possibility of a vulnerable situation for both the Mentor and the student. Mentors are covered by the school insurance while performing mentor service on the school grounds.
The Mentor Program is a school-based program. If you want an opportunity to "make a difference" in the life of a child outside of the school hours and location, opportunities exist with other organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, 4-H, city recreation programs, scouting, church groups, and the YMCA.
- Am I too old/young to be a mentor?
Mentors range in age from high school to retired individuals in their late eighties. Mentoring is really about how young you feel and your desire to get involved with a child. There is no age requirement for becoming a mentor. We all have something of value to give to a child. All it takes to become a mentor is the desire to make a difference. Ask yourself these questions: Can I be trusted to show up when I say I will? Can I listen to people? Can I let someone know I understand their concerns? Do I know how to be a friend? Can I offer encouragement and support? If you answered "yes" to these questions, you have what it takes to be a mentor. It may be the easiest life-changing experience you'll ever have! As one new mentor recently said in regard to mentoring, "it's the highlight of my week!"
- How do I know if mentoring is really what I want to do?
Some individuals simply "know" mentoring is something they want to do. Others are more skeptical and aren't sure what to expect. A new mentor, prior to meeting her mentor student for the first time, said, "I didn't sleep all night because I was worried my mentor student wasn't going to like me...." That same mentor and her student have developed a wonderful relationship and the mentor now states, "I absolutely love mentoring, I wish I would have done it sooner."
Studies show that kids want and crave attention of adults. The Mentor Program requires a one year commitment. If at anytime your relationship with your mentor student does not go well, the counselor and mentor staff are there to assist. At times mentors and students are not well matched. In these cases, the mentor is given the option of being rematched with another student.
Mentors also benefit from the mentor match. One mentor recently wrote,"The young man assigned to me has given me a whole new look on life. He has come out of his shell and I have found I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Unlike any job I've had-mentoring gives me the most satisfaction."
- Can I choose who I mentor?
Upon applying to the mentor program, mentors are encouraged to give input as to what age group they feel comfortable in mentoring. The mentor program works with students grades K-12 thus the opportunities for mentoring are wide spread. Male mentors are always matched with a male student while female mentors are matched with either male or female students.