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 battling with her mentee who announced yesterday that he wanted to leave school. There is no way he is ready to do so and we discussed strategies to help him see the options available to him. This mentor has achieved so much with her mentee, yet battles to see it. The School Coordinator and I can see it and tell her as such – how important it is to affirm these mentors! A brief email from that mentee to his mentor overnight just saying how much he had enjoyed catching up again after the holidays, said heaps! And, so I can go on …….. as all the mentors were leaving, the Principal came out of his office. He stood there and greeted the mentors and then told me that he was about to ask how things had gone, but he had seen the mentors involved in animated discussions, really pumped up, so he knew the answer!

Now I am trying to recruit for another program at that school. Training is due to start in a couple of weeks and I would like a few more mentors. With the help of the local Neighborhood Centre, a group gathered this morning for an orientation. If 4 or 5 of these retired folk come on board that would be brilliant. I wish I had more time to do the recruiting.

Our other two programs get under way next week …. more on that later.