Communities In Schools of Chatham County: Mentoring Match Spotlight
Sophia and Jane Kornblut
Jane was missing her two young grandchildren after they moved to the West Coast. So she decided to try spending time with a youngster here in Chatham County whom she might be able to help with school work and cultural opportunities.
About a year ago, she started mentoring for the first time. She met weekly with Sophia, who was then a six-year old first grader at North Chatham Elementary School.
Both of them are delighted about their time together, which has turned out to be even more wonderful than they could have imagined.
Jane spent ten years as a high-school music/drama teacher in Fairfax, Virginia. Now she lives in North Chatham and works as an executive coach for private and nonprofit leaders. Sophia lives nearby with her family; her parents are from Mexico. She was born here and speaks fluently in English and Spanish, and is now a second-grader in her school’s dual language program.
Sophia was already an excellent reader when she and Jane first met, but she didn’t always understand or recall what she had been reading.
“So we decided to work on reading comprehension,” says Jane. “We worked on reading aloud and practiced that a lot.”
Jane began asking questions about what they had read. When Sophia did not understand or recall, they would discuss the story so that she could answer the questions, and remember the plot, its meaning and characters. Then Jane would ask Sophia about all of it again when they met the following week. Each time, Sophia’s reading comprehension grew.
They recently reviewed the six books they had read together just since September. “She could tell me all about the characters and the stories in each of them,” says Jane, astonished at the progress Sophia had made and all that she had retained. “I felt so proud of her.”
Their weekly meetings always started out with reading work. But when they were done, they got to play.
Jane enjoys gardening and Sophia helped her plant basil. They went to the farmer’s market and the movies, and they took field trips to the zoo and the life sciences museum. Sophia is very curious, so they talked about all kinds of things.
Sophia says her favorite fun activity with Jane was playing the piano.
“One day she noticed I had a piano and asked me to teach her how to play a song,” says Jane. “I placed her hand on the first five keys, C through G, and taught her a simple tune.”
Sophia caught on immediately and announced she wanted to write her own music.
“She came up with a way to do it herself by labeling her fingers and the corresponding notes with family names – Mom, Dad, Brother, Baby and Me,” says Jane.
Sophia created a new melody, developed a methody to remember the notes, then wrote the notation down on paper!
“It was incredible,” says Jane. “She is amazing. She has a curious mind, and all of a sudden, she just connected.”
Jane didn’t know what to expect when she volunteered to become a mentor. “I thought it might be challenging to create a relationship,” she says. “But it turned out to be wonderful. It’s been great to see her grow, but I’ve also gotten so much from this. I’ve enjoyed Sophia and her family, who have been very supportive of Sophia and of our relationship. She makes my day!”
Sophia has also really enjoyed the relationship. She loves having Jane as a mentor. She says that Jane has really helped her reading a lot, and they have had lots of fun times together, too. She believes that other children would love to have a mentor just like Jane.
The mission of Communities In Schools of Chatham County is to surround students with a community of support empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. To learn more about how you can be a mentor or lunch buddy, contact Shirille Lee at (919)663-0116 or Shirille@cischatham.org .
Next mentor orientation/trainings will be Thursday, January 21, 2016 at the Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro, 5:30 – 8:00pm and Saturday, February 6, 2016 at CISCC office (208 North Chatham Ave.) in Siler City, 9:00 – 11:30am. Call to reserve your spot today.
Learn how you can become a mentor, or join one of our upcoming trainings, contact:
919-663-0116 ext. 404