Josilyn is a warm, smart, friendly 5thgrader who attends Virginia Cross Elementary School in Siler City. Susan Collins Thompson is a creative, resourceful retired educator. Josilyn and Susan are friends as part of CIS-Chatham County’s (CIS-CC) Mentoring Program. Matched in late February, 2017, the pair meets regularly to have lunch together, work on school work, and attend monthly movies at Wren Memorial Library in Siler City.
The weekly Monday lunches are special, whereby Susan lays out colorful cloth placemats and napkins, setting a positive space and tone for the week. A couple of Josilyn’s classmates always join the pair, and they talk about current successes and challenges. Susan encourages the students to be well-behaved and to make good choices in and out of school.
These mentoring activities happen like clockwork, Susan said, and it’s evident that Josilyn responds well to the consistency. “I know what’s coming up. I know what we’re doing. I can count on Susan. She is super-fun, really nice, and really generous.” Josilyn’s father, a single dad, is thankful for the CIS-CC mentoring program that connects both of his children with positive adults.
Susan also introduces Josilyn to service-learning experiences and has led by example how to become involved in the community. “We go to a lot of places,” Josilyn said. “She helps me get out of the house.” One of these places is a friend’s farm. Visiting the farm was special because Josilyn rode a mule, saw baby chickens, and learned how to tell the difference between fresh eggs and eggs that have been sitting out for a week. Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom of a cup or bowl filled with water.
Another favorite activity was participating in an Earth Day clean-up at the Loves Creek Greenway Trail in Siler City. On April 22, 2017, a team comprised of Josilyn, Susan, Siler City’s Parks and Recreation Director, Joseph Keel, and student from the Beta Club at Chatham Charter in Siler City picked up trash along the trail. Eventually, Susan and Josilyn went through the steps to officially “adopt” the trail, thus giving them civic responsibility to make sure the trail is kept clean. Josilyn is proud of this accomplishment. “When the [adoption] signs were put up, it made me feel special—and that I have a big responsibility in helping keep the community clean and safe.”
Susan delights in how much Josilyn has “bloomed.” Josilyn exhibits a great attitude, acts as a leader, and just made A/B Honor Roll! Others have also noticed the difference. Josilyn was recently honored by her class when she was chosen as September’s “Lion Cub Leader” for being Proactive. When asked about being selected, she said, “It feels good. I’m showing a good example for the school.” Being proactive is “always helping others, and being nice.” Indeed. These are the same qualities Susan shows Josilyn when spending time with her each week.
Susan said the best part about being Josilyn’s mentor is that it’s a “really good match.” When elements like this align, the impact is large and everyone—the child, the mentor, the family, the school, and the entire community—benefits.
You can make a difference in the life of a child too! For more information on community and/or school-based mentoring, contact Shirille Lee, Program Manager, Mentoring Program, at: (919) 663-0116 x 404; firstname.lastname@example.org