Hello SOTGC community,
Across the nation, we have 18 million students wanting or needing a mentor relationship with someone other than a teacher or parent. Yes, 18 million! When students are interacting with a mentor, it has been proven they are 50% less likely to skip school and 35% less likely to skip class. (Mentor – National Mentoring Partnership, 2013)
So imagine for a moment, there is a little girl, sitting silently in a corner, watching the world pass before her, wishing nothing more than for someone to come along to help her through her fears. She watches her classmates, play, run, laugh, with carefree intent, unaware of anyone watching; she wonders quietly if they ever have struggles of their own. She watches them interact with innocents and curiosity, wishing she had someone to talk to. Each day that passes, she takes in as much as she can, capturing the joy she witnesses on their faces. She places those memories with careful intention into her mind, for a day to escape and live through the eyes of others. As for now, she waits, wondering if someone will come to her, extend their hand and let her voice be heard. What will her future hold?
Even today our days pass, hurried and unaware of what may be going on around us, or perhaps, what is not going on around us. Life goes by so quickly, too quickly, that the year is almost over before we realize it even began. We are faced with so many decisions it is nearly impossible to get everything done, and along the way, we make mistakes. It is in those moments mistakes happen, causing us to find a moment to slow down and evaluate how we might be able to avoid it in the future.
We learn valuable lessons from those mistakes. For me, they are some of the greatest lessons learned! Taking time to analyze what we may have missed, how we could have done it differently to get a better result or perhaps others that could provide much needed support. It is in those moments we need to realize that we are not alone. We encounter people daily that are traveling a similar journey, having the same thoughts or challenges. Still, we remain in our own corner wondering, wishing, hoping someone will take notice and extend a hand to help us keep moving forward.
Each day we continue to learn and face challenges that may push us to the limits, but we should never be afraid to learn from them. That is when we come become the experts, regardless of the time in our life, importance, complexity, what matters is we gained a life experiences. With each step, we grow stronger and more resilient, taking with us a unique opportunity to share with others so they can become successful in their own journey.
Our world continues to become more technologically savvy; the challenges we face become multifaceted that any advice we can gain from the resources around us, the better everyone benefits. Take for instance your first day in your career, what would you have given to instantly have someone in your corner to help you navigate the various challenges? How often in your career have you reached out to seek the advice and support of a colleague? How many actually take time to seek out that person to help, to mentor?
Our best ideas come from knowing we have that one person who is willing to listen, to be a sounding board as you formulate your ideas. Their role does not stop at listening; they will challenge you by asking questions you have not thought of. Often we walk away wondering quietly to ourselves, “How did they know to ask that question?” “I would have never considered…” The answer is easy; they knew to ask because of their own experiences. They also have a bigger role, to be your advocate and put into perspective not only your strengths, but to identify your opportunities and encourage you to set goals. Ultimately, this person believes in you and wants nothing more than to watch you succeed.
In many situations it is not until we have failed several times before we accidentally stumble into the presence of someone willing to extend a hand to help. Chances are, you are no different from the next, and you genuinely want to help and are willing to extend your hand. From the day we are born we are learning, willing to share our experience for the betterment of others. All too often though, it is not until we are adults that we extend our hand to help others, because as adolescence you do not realize power in one other.
This need starts way before our professional careers. Across the nation we face a stark reality of children dropping out of school. There are so many distractions in young American’s lives today, creating an endless list of risk factors that veer them away from school. The question remains, why should this matter to us? That is easy, because they are our future and there is proven statistics that show high school and college education helps people grow into their fullest potential to be productive members of society, self-reliant and ready to share their experiences. As a community and a nation, it helps reduce crime rates because these students are being productive with their time and instead of disconnecting themselves from the world around them.
In many situations, students choose to skip school for several reasons such as being overwhelmed with the curriculum or perhaps they feel a lack of support. Maybe they have a problem and find themselves stuck in a corner watching the world go by waiting for a hand to reach out and pull them up. Whatever the reason, research shows that most of these young Americans simply want support, help from someone they can openly talk to, to learn from, and are simply not getting it.
The good news is that 3 million students are receiving support from a mentor, which is a start. However, that still leaves 15 million in need, reaching out their hand waiting to make a connection with someone, anyone, to help support their journey. (Mentor – National Mentoring Partnership, 2013) The benefits of having a mentor will help students improve their performance in school, develop new skills and to reach their fullest potential throughout their educational years while helping shape their personal and professional career in adulthood.
The immediate impact starts with improving their academic skills and allows them to work with someone to set incremental goals without feeling additional pressure. Just as important, by having a mentor to rely on will improve the students’ self-esteem and helps them feel more included. Along the way, they will learn from the life experiences of their mentor throughout the relationship.
Imagine the impact you can have on another’s life, especially that of a student or the little girl at the beginning or our story. They just want to be heard, to learn how to use their voice effectively while navigating the complex obstacles of life. Think back to the moments you wished someone was there for you, to pick you up and point you in the right direction. You have a lot of gifts to share, don’t keep them wrapped up, give them to others so they can open and build upon their own life experiences.
“There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.” Angel Flonis Harefa