40. Mentors meet mentees – a new journey begins, but!!!!!

Our second program began today with a bang! One mentor phoned me early in the day to check that her mentee was at school, as she had a particularly busy day and did not want to travel to the school if he was not there. He was at school, so all was good! However, when I arrived at the school I discovered that the School Coordinator, who had been sick last week, was still away and the other Senior Management teacher who would have assisted was also sick! Fortunately, the Principal was up to speed with the program and together we got things sorted out, not without incident though. The young lad about whom I had phoned earlier in the day was now absent – seemed like he was playing truant, nothing to do with the mentoring program. Another mentee was not at school, relationship and other issues confusing her young life. No-one knew where she was. Another had relationship issues that he was not dealing well with and had failed to appear. As our program targets students beginning to disengage from school, mentors saw the reality of that today. However, I felt sorry for them, as they had travelled the distance yet were very understanding. Again, I learnt my lesson about double-checking that the students were at school prior to mentors arriving at the school. When I returned to the office, I immediately contacted the other school where the mentors meet their mentees on Thursday and asked the School Coordinator to put in place a plan to check the presence of students prior to the mentors arriving 🙂...

39. Third program launch and a Parent WOW moment!

Our third program matching session took place on Thursday. A small group of 7 mentors and mentees. When I arrived at the school the mentees were sitting around – better to say lounging around – in the library waiting for everyone to arrive. I made a comment about them looking fast asleep and some responded and shared the humor. Once the matching session began, they began to perk up. When I did a fun activity – they are all fun actually – some were a little disinterested, then they rose to the challenge and then they were all involved. Wonderful to see the transformation taking place in the space of 30 or so minutes. As I have probably mentioned before, so many of these young people are lacking in ambition, self-belief and so much more. We have done the matching now and mentors meet with mentees for the first time next week. Then, just as we get the program under way, we miss the next week because of teacher industrial action … grrr!! Not for me to comment on this, just to ask those organising such action not to get in the way of the GR8 MATES mentor program, as every minute these youngsters spend with their mentors could be potentially life-changing 🙂 I returned to work and found an email from another mentor. She was going to hear her mentee sing that night at the school and wasn’t sure how to approach the mentee’s parents. Indeed, she wasn’t sure that her mentee actually wanted her to meet her parents! What should she do? Well, I suggested that she...

38. Recruiting mentors – the power of sharing information

Last week I mentioned that I had been speaking to a small Neighborhood group of semi-retired and retired people and hoped that I would have 4 or 5 new mentors for the training I begin for a fourth program next week. As I write up this blog page, I have just signed on another mentor from that group, making the total from that meeting 7!! Quite awesome. I now have 13 mentors for the training, which meets our target of between 10 and 15 mentors for each program. One mentor I have already trained will be joining this program when we are ready to begin the mentoring journey and I hope one or two other current mentors might participate as well. Why is this important? Well, thanks to the wonderful lady who works at the Neighborhood centre, I have been able to achieve major inroads into a section of the population that would make GR8 mentors! 47% of that population are evidently retired or semi-retired. And there are possibilities of the Neighborhood Centre being involved in other programs we run as well. Yet of even more importance is the networking with other organisations and people globally. I have been advised to create something on Face Book and some of the other sites, but I don’t have that sort of time. Instead I affiliate to the Mentor Exchange Listserv (see my links page on my website http://www.yess.co.nz/) and through the sharing of information I have gained some excellent resources. Thanks, Mike and your team!! 🙂 What I am doing is putting into practice what all the research is saying ie,...

37. A new program gets under way – it's challenging!

Earlier this week I ran the mentor and mentee matching session at one of the schools where we are launching our GR8 MATES program. We had plenty of fun and the activities that took place were totally non-threatening and aimed at helping mentors and mentees find similar interests, values etc. One mentee muttered to the School Coordinator that he didn’t see how grey-haired old people could help him and then, a short while later, chose two ‘grey-haired’ old people in his choice of three for the mentoring role!! This particular group of students has so little ambition. Most don’t have a clue what they want to do with their lives; most have very few people they look up to and admire, yet they all have potential and this wonderful new group of mentors will encourage them to see this. We had a few students unable to attend the matching session as they had other school commitments or were away. This made the matching a bit of a juggling act, but I ended up comparing similar interests etc. which both parties had expressed in their Interest Surveys. No complaints received thus far, so I am feeling optimistic. This school is a challenge, yet they have some fantastically dedicated and committed staff and a Principal doing his level best to encourage the students to see all the possibilities out there for them. Having the mentors, all successful people in their own right, arriving each week at the school, will itself be a positive development. My only concern is that 6 months is going to be too short for these mentoring relationships,...

36. More WOW moments this week! Life-changing perhaps?

Yesterday was another wonderful day with the mentors and their mentees. Many of the mentees are heading off next week on a week of work experience and mentors have been actively helping this process. One of the challenges many adolescents have to deal with is fear ie, fear about making that phone call to the person they want to speak to about a possible work experience opportunity; fear because they might be rejected by an employer and so much more. Yesterday a mentor sat with her mentee as the latter confirmed her work experience opportunity. The mentee phoned the company and first had to deal with someone who knew nothing about this. The mentee was passed on to two other people before she finally got things sorted. She was so happy after completing this process and acknowledged that she had, indeed, overcome that fear and how much easier it was having her mentor there to encourage her. The mentee is also becoming highly motivated about the possibility of teaching as a career thanks to the work she and the mentor are doing together. Both the mentor and the mentee were bubbling with enthusiasm about their plans for the next few weeks. In my last post I mentioned a mentor who felt she was battling with her mentee. Well, yesterday was a life-changing moment, I am sure. The mentee, who has been very much one of those ‘it’s too hard!’ youngsters, announced that he had organised his work experience since seeing his mentor last week; he personally went to sort out some other arrangements with the Careers Adviser yesterday with...

35. School is back and all the WOW! moments

Yesterday the mentors and mentees met for their final term or semester. There was a wonderful buzz in the room after the mentees had returned to class and soon it was obvious why this was the case. It was a catch-up session, yet mentors were just blown away at what mentees were doing and saying eg, one mentee told her mentor that she would be staying at school next year rather than leaving, which had been her original plan. She still had to tell her parents, but wanted the mentor to know. Higher school retention is one of the GR8 MATES goals. This mentor is now working through different career choices with the mentee. Another has a mentee heading off to work experience in a couple of weeks and he is soooooo motivated for this. He has used his initiative to set up the work experience and wants to be offered an apprenticeship at the end of his week of work experience. His mentor is sharing ways to make this possible. Three months ago this mentee was drifting, demotivated, desperate to leave school. Now he has a purpose! Another program goal achieved. Another received the most awesome email message after the mentoring session, the mentee saying how much she had enjoyed the mentoring relationship and was excited about some of the future career matters they were planning together. Yet another informed her mentor that she would be making some phone calls to a potential employer – 6 weeks ago that would not have happened. The mentor was still in shock, I think, as she shared this. Another mentor is...