Thank you so, so much for giving that time to me…

A mentor reached out to me recently and wanted to send a card of encouragement to her previous student. When I delivered the card to the student, she immediately asked to email a response to her mentor.

She shared how well things were going and how she was looking forward to her upcoming graduation. And she wrote: “I want to thank you so, so much for giving that time to me, to talk to me. I am more than grateful for you. You are a big part of my life.”

When the mentor saw her message, she wrote back: “This email made me cry!!! Happy Tears!!! Wow. Just wow. So glad to hear from her! That girl is on her way”

–Lisa Reynolds–Lynden High School Mentor Coordinator

New Mentor Orientation and Training – Fall 2019

Thursday, Sept 19th 8:30-10:30 am at Lynden High School
Wednesday, Sept 25th 9:00-11:00 am at Lynden High School
Tuesday, Oct 8th 12:00 noon-2:00 pm at Lynden Middle School
Friday, Oct 18th 9:00-11:00 am at Lynden Middle School

This is the required two-hour orientation and training for brand new mentors. There are identical sessions, being offered at different times and locations to try to accommodate people.

This week’s tip: be friendly.

This month, the Mentoring Minute is focusing on ways that you can build a strong mentoring relationship with your student. Last week, we encouraged you to avoid being overly formal in your relationship with your student. Mentoring relationships are generally more effective when students see their mentor more as a trusted, caring friend and less like another parent or teacher in their life.

This week’s tip: be friendly.

As a mentor, it’s hard to reach the status of a trusted, caring friend if you’re not friendly. So, what does being friendly look like in a mentoring relationship? It means things like laughing and having fun with your student. It means cheering your student on. It means being impartial, and not automatically taking the parental view when they share things with you. It means showing your student genuine respect as you listen to them.

Remember too that building trust with your student takes time. Even when you do all that you can to be friendly and caring, it may take longer than you think it should for trust to be built in your relationship. The truth is your trust as a mentor is earned, and not automatically assumed or given.

Check back next Monday for another tip on how to build a strong mentoring relationship with your student.

-Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor Coach

Doing what they Love

A newly matched mentor wanted to do something with her student that she enjoyed. Together we brainstormed some ideas and finally determined that baking was a passion of the mentee. So, on one given day the three of us utilized the staff room oven and baked some cookies for the mentee to share with her friends. This was a huge success and brought the mentee and mentor closer together.

Quality People Becoming Quality Mentors
A mentor was in my mentor pool and her name was written down on my mentor board. One day my son saw her name and got really excited. He told me that he had interacted with this person on occasion and then he told me, “Wow, if she was my mentor, I would definitely join the program.” It shows you the quality of mentors we receive for our program.

Mentoring is for Everyone
A student came to me wanting a mentor and I took some time to interview them. I learned that the potential mentee was an excellent student, had a very stable home life, and was well liked at school. In fact, the student did not mention any troubles at all. The student simply said they wanted “a positive person willing to listen.”

-Brian Clemmer, Lynden Middle School Mentor Coordinator

This week’s tip: avoid being overly formal.

This month, the Mentoring Minute is focusing on ways that you can build a strong mentoring relationship with your student. Recently, a major review of studies done on the effectiveness of adult and youth relationships in counseling and mentoring shared several tips for building strong relationships with students.

This week’s tip: avoid being overly formal.

Students are not necessarily looking for another parental voice in their life, or another teacher or counselor checking in on how they are doing. All of these roles are important in their life, but a mentor’s role is different…and less formal. Your role is to listen. Your role is to empathize. Your role is to encourage. Your role is to guide. As you continue to build a relationship with your student, be careful not to bring the level of formality that some of these other important relationships often require. But, focus instead on the role of being a trusted, caring friend.

Check back next Monday for another tip on how to build a strong mentoring relationship with your student.

-Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor Coach

Student’s value Mentors as Adult Friends.

Every year for the last 6 years we have interviewed the students who have participated in the mentoring program for the year. The number one reason students tell us they want a mentor is to have an adult to talk with every week who will be their friend and not a counselor or an authority figure.

They long for someone they can trust to not be judgmental when they confide their struggles. Someone who will see them, hear them, encourage them and celebrate them.

Students deeply value the opportunity to unburden themselves through conversations with their mentor and often apply sound advice given. They also value a two-way conversation in which their mentor shares about their life too. They are literally learning how to have positive conversations with their peers and other adults by practicing each week with their mentor. It is so fun to listen to them relate how they are enjoying their relationship with their mentor and the positive outcomes they see in themselves. Students also tell us they love to play games, do projects, be active, receive small gifts (especially food) and laugh with their mentors. When their mentors miss a week the students are genuinely disappointed.

It is absolutely stunning to hear from the student’s perspective the impact one hour a week of undivided attention from a caring adult friend makes.

-Nancy McHarness, Co-Founder, Partners for Schools/Be the One.

Summer Blues

Most students anticipate with excitement the coming summer break, but this is not always true for everyone. Some students dread a summer at home for a variety of reasons. One thing is common for both types of students who have mentors. They will miss their mentoring time. Every student that is continuing with their mentor is sad they will not see their mentor for 3 months. Even though this can disrupt the natural flow of mentoring year to year, this can have a significant impact on the relationship when they meet again.

Multi-Generational Mentoring

A teacher came to me with excitement the other day. She was excited to tell me that she observed a mentor and a mentee sitting together talking. She went to the pair and talked with them for awhile and was excited to learn that they were part of the mentoring program. The teacher was excited because she had both the mentee and mentor as students in the past. Mentoring is so vital for our community.

Patience can lead

Two themes that commonly come up in the first 6 months of a mentoring relationship are true impact and the depth of conversation. Many mentors feel like they are “not doing anything” as they come and meet with their student over and over again. Also, mentors tell me that the conversation is usually not much deeper than surface-level insignificant things. And I counter with the same concept to many of the mentors: “be patient, those deeper conversations will come.” In the last month, at least 6 mentors who previously shared this viewpoint came to me with excitement and shared that their students had finally “opened up” and shared some deep personal things. Most students desire to share deep personal things, they just need to trust someone with those things, and that takes time.

Happy Middle School Students

I don’t have many people in my life who I can talk to, but I have my mentor. They are the only consistent thing in my life.” – 8th grader

I can’t always talk with the counselor, but I can tell my mentor everything.” – 7th grader

My mentor is my safe place.” – 7th grader