January is National Mentoring Month, and Communities In Schools of Chatham County (CIS CC) is celebrating the positive impacts of youth mentoring as well as recruiting more caring adults to make a difference in our young people’s lives. Mentoring provides guidance, encouragement, and support to help youth succeed in school, at work, and in life.
CIS CC Mentoring works! Last year, 55 youth were served through the Mentoring Program. 86% of the mentees met or exceeded the average daily school attendance rate. 86% of matched youth met their behavioral and/or academic goals. However, there is still a need for one-on-one mentors in Chatham County. CIS CC currently has 44 mentoring matches and 33 youth on the waiting list. Are you interested in becoming a mentor or do you know someone who might be? The power of mentoring is best illustrated by those who have been impacted first-hand.
Current mentors say that their lives have been impacted positively by their mentees. Elizabeth Fridley shares that she and her mentee “have learned and taught each other so much by sharing our experiences and perspectives. My relationship with Jade has taught me to be present and fully engaged.” Garry Sronce says, “It’s all so rich. Skipping rocks on flat water with a kid who has never done that before is simply a wonderful experience. And we can’t wait to do it again!” CIS CC celebrates our dedicated mentors and knows they will continue to be impacted positively in a variety of expected and unexpected ways.
What is the impact of mentoring with CIS CC according to the parents and family members of the youth served? Savannah and Mason are siblings who both attend 3rd grade at an elementary school in Chatham County. Matched since March 2017, Sue McMaster and Savannah do lots of things together: They read, shop, cook, hike, watch movies and eat popcorn, and Savannah is almost always very well behaved. Jane Gallagher and Mason (also matched since March 2017) spend time together, mostly outside being active. Jane was athletic as a child, and sees her younger self in the boy with boundless energy. Watching Mason run full-speed, barefoot, with not a care in the world—that, according to Jane, is what freedom really is.
Sheila is a non-parent family member living with Savannah and Mason, and she says mentoring has been very positive for both children. Sheila sees how Mason tries to use what Jane has taught him. He is much better at using his words when he is angry. And when he has so much energy he needs to release, he goes outside and runs around the house a couple of times as Jane has suggested. Although it’s a long journey, Sheila has seen a big difference. Both children’s grades have improved; Savannah recently made A/B Honor Roll and Mason missed it by just one point. Sheila has seen improvements in the home too. “It gets wild in here,” she said, “but it’s great that they have someone to spend time with and to take them places. They do all kinds of things.”
Karen is the mother of now 22-year old twin boys, Kenton and Kendrick. Both were mentored from when they were in 3rd grade until they finished high school. Kenton currently is an assistant manager at Food Lion in Siler City. Kendrick is a senior in college at East Carolina University. Both men still keep up with the mentors they grew to love as boys. Karen said that once the relationships were established, “no one wanted to let go.” Karen was diagnosed with MS when her boys were young, and she is especially grateful for the time the mentors spent with her sons. She never had to worry when her sons were with them. She knew they were well taken care of. The twins were and are very different, their mother said, and it was very good they had separate mentors. Each of them felt that they were important and mattered as individuals.
Perhaps the greatest gauge of the program’s impact is from what the mentees say themselves. I had a chance to speak with Savannah and Mason about their experiences with their mentors. Mason said Jane was “nice” and that she “gives you choices.” He said that by having a mentor he gets to “do more things like go hiking in the woods and look for neat stuff.” Savannah could hardly contain her excitement when telling me all the things Sue has taught her and done with her. “She teaches me lots! She taught me how to bake cookies and how to crochet, and she took me to the movies and to the Nutcracker Ballet!” Savannah added that when she does well, Sue rewards her with fun things to do. One of her favorite things about having a mentor is when Sue comes and eats lunch with her. It makes her feel really, really good.
Mentors with CIS CC are trained, screened, and supervised by our experienced Mentoring Program Manager, Shirille Lee. One mentor says, “You don’t really have to know what you’re doing in the beginning—you have so much support from Shirille. If you come to Shirille with a problem or concern, she laughs and lightens things up. It’s like Shirille is mentoring the mentors.” You can make a difference in the life of a child too! For more information, contact Shirille Lee, Program Manager, Mentoring Program, at: (919) 663-0116 x 404; firstname.lastname@example.org
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; email@example.com
January is National Mentoring Month!
Communities In Schools of Chatham County will host a volunteer orientation/training on Saturday, January 21, 2017, 9:00am – 12:00pm at the CIS CC Office 208 North Chatham Ave., Siler City.
~ NATIONAL MENTORING MONTH ~
Take a minute to read this article found in EdNC written by Communities In Schools Vice President – Mr. Danya Perry. If you would like a similar opportunity to work with a Chatham County youth, contact Shrille Lee at (919) 663-0116 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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