Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, June 3, 2013


Tomorrow will be the last week I spend with my mentee this school term.  We have been together for three years, and this term I followed her to middle school.

We began this program in on the elementary level, planning to follow fifth-graders (elementary is grades K to 5) when they transitioned to middle school (grades 6 to 8).  The idea was that because this is a significant change in how students experience the school day, how school functions, peer changes and more, that having a mentor available for students who needed one would be a good idea.  Student families self-choose to be part of the program.  The reason a mentor is wanted is, frankly, irrelevant; if the parents feel that a mentor would help their child, then we try to provide one.

That first year was interesting.  After notification at the administrative level, all fifth-grade parents were informed that mentors were available for anyone who wanted one.  Those interested only had to request a permission form.  Many families expressed that interest, obtained the forms and not one returned it.

So, the information was then presented to the fourth-grade families and we had more requests than we could fill.  Inadequate planning.  The woman chosen to run the program is a former school principal.  I am supposed to be her assistant, but with my other life and crafting this new one, I have not been much help to her.  I did make photocopies at a meeting for her.  Once.  Oh, well, perhaps next term.

There are only two of the original mentors, me and another woman.  She and another woman were unable to follow their mentees on to middle school.  One has gone back to the elementary level to start with a new student, and the other one was disappointed at losing her student and has left the program.  There have been seven or eight new mentors, but things have not worked out, for one reason or another, and there are still students who need mentors.

This is puzzling, as the national program of which we are a part does very well in training mentors, matching them with students and retaining them.  I have no idea what is wrong with us.  Only two of more than a dozen of beginning mentors are still with the program.  Well, the supervisor makes three, but she does not have a mentee.

I like being a mentor.  I am really good at it.  I do not, however, follow all the rules.  Huge surprise, huh?

I am dedicated and committed to being:
  • A good role model
  • Reliable
  • Creative
  • Consistent
  • A true and steadfast friend
  • A safe person/place, where anything can be shared
  • Any resource my mentee and her/his family needs or wants me to be
  • A decent participant in the program
Unfortunately, the center director wants mentors to exceed their boundaries by becoming more intrusive in the lives of our mentees and their families.  That, I refuse to do.  I know that his issues are because of the changes in obtaining and keeping grants.  The criteria and reporting and validating standards change all the time, and are becoming increasingly more complicated and stringent.  The main focal point right now is proven improvement in grade point averages.  The students for whom that is appropriate and quantifiable criteria are more properly served by tutors.  Completely separate needs. 

Students need mentors for many more reasons than grade point improvement, most of which are not tied to learning.  This is brought up at every monthly meeting.  And, every time, I ask how we are to do that.  And, every time, the director tells us that he does not know, only that it is one of the requirements.

I am guessing that the only reason I am still a mentor is because there are now only two of us, and I have been doing it longer than anyone else.  Not exactly job security; I am sure my days are numbered.  Until then, I will show up every week, spend time doing what my mentee needs, tutor when needed and have as much fun as possible, which is making art, closely followed by just sitting and talking.

Previous years, one of our last day things was that I brought her favorite sandwich from her favorite restaurant.  That worked great because the time we spent together was during her lunch hour.  This year we meet during her study period.  I have not yet figured out how to bring the food and keep it from getting all cold and icky.  I have until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.  I am probably doomed, and will have to come up with something else.

Thank goodness I decided to organize my work room yesterday.  I found enough beads and stuff to make her a bracelet, key ring and one of those charm things for her cell phone.  I gave her more art supplies last week, just in case something happened this week and we could not get together.  I am going to miss her this summer and am looking forward to seeing how she has grown the next time we meet.

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