January was National Mentorship Month, and as part of reflecting on their service with City Year to date, we asked a few of our AmeriCorps members to talk about what mentorship means to them. They were asked to think about mentors that they have had in their own lives, as well as how they have been mentors to their own students. Here is what they had to say:
What does it mean to be a mentor?
Being a mentor means developing a lasting, continuous relationship with someone in which you can provide advice and support, and answer their questions. In the context of my work at City Year, it means developing a relationship with a child in which I can talk to them about different areas of their life, not just academics but also regarding their relationships with parents, siblings and friends, and help them develop skills such as setting goals and taking on responsibilities. Being a mentor also means checking in with students even when everything seems okay, so that you are a constant, caring force in their lives, one who is always there even when they think they don’t need it. It means being deliberate in your relationship with students.
-Yi He, City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps member serving on the Parker-Varney Elementary School team
Who is someone that has been a mentor to you? What did they do to support you?
Since I began City Year, I have been able to grow into a stronger leader, become more confident in myself, and become a better person because of the mentor I have in my life. Jenna, my Impact Manager at Northwest, has been an important mentor in my life over the last five months. Jenna is constantly pushing me to be the best possible version of myself. When I come to her about tough situations or if I am in need of advice, she has the ability to give me her wisdom that I can then use towards future situations. Jenna is someone that I can depend on to have my best interests at heart and guide me to reach my short term and long term goals.
-Vicki Hennessey, City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps member serving on the Northwest Elementary School team generously sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal
Why is it important to have mentors?
Mentors are able to fill in the gaps that open up in spaces like our under-resourced schools. Mentors are able to see who isn’t getting what they need. For example, in a classroom of 29 students, the teacher cannot possibly tend to each student’s individualized needs 100% of the time. The teacher has his/her own groups to work with and many additional responsibilities. This is where mentors come in. As a mentor, it’s easy to see which students need more support. At times, it’s the quieter students who just won’t ask for extra help.
-Julie Lavoie, City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps VISTA
How have you been a mentor in your time at City Year?
Being a mentor is a huge part of my job as an AmeriCorps member, especially during my biweekly lunch group where I work with my students on many non-academic life skills such as goal setting, self and social awareness, and teamwork. Since the beginning of the school year I have built my relationship with my students and we have grown to trust each other. My students often come to me for advice (about personal things as well as academic) or just for a hug if they are having a bad day. I have been really purposeful in making sure that even when I correct their behavior they know that it is because I want them to succeed and not because I want to get them in trouble. This has resulted in creating a culture of accountability for both them and me.
-Noa Sadeh, City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps member serving on the Bakersville Elementary School team
What is something you have taught your mentees? What is something they have taught you?
I have taught them genuine love from an “authority” figure. Letting students know that you believe in their potential is much more powerful than putting down their behavior. My mentees have taught me how to be the role model I needed when I was younger. Even though I didn't come in to City Year as an expert educator, I can make an impact on my students by being a consistent, encouraging role model for them.
-Tatiyana Murray, City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps member, serving as a Service Leader on the Gossler Park Elementary School team generously supported by Dartmouth-Hitchcock & Lincoln Financial
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