The Word of the Month: Mentoring
February 28, 2020
Howdy Doodleheads! I bet you thought I wasn’t going to make my resolve to once again write in this space every month a reality. Oh ye of little faith! Here it is February 28th and I am actually doing it. And ha, ha, this February has an extra day tacked on, so there! My self-imposed deadline shall be met with a whole day left over. Now how do you feel? Personally, I’m feeling quite smugly justified! And on top of that, I’ve received a blast of inspiration for this whole year. Since my one word for 2020 is WORD, it seems appropriate that each of my doodles this year will focus on one specific word and what it means to me.
Confession time: Before you gasp with awe and wonderment at this tremendous feat of brilliance, I should let you know that I couldn’t think of much to say this month, so I decided to share a little something I was asked to write for the Appalachian Mentoring Program several weeks ago in order to save my shriveled brain from thinking too hard in this depressingly dreary, snow-deprived February. And that led me to the whole word of the month thought. We’re studying the Armor Of God by Priscilla Shirer in Sunday School, so I’m trying to live out the righteousness God has imputed to me through Jesus by being totally forthright here. Laziness still has a grip on me. Nevertheless, here we go:
CHANGING LIVES ONE AT A TIME
Kablam! I had recently retired from fifteen years as a nanny and was praying about what in the world to do with myself, when a small blurb in the church bulletin about a new mentoring program in Corbin city schools caught my attention. Yes! This was it! I was so excited I could barely control the gurgling joy within. I attended a meeting about it and then the training session.
Hmmm. What was I getting myself into? As much as I wanted to be able to work one-on-one with a child who needed encouragement, the realities of some of the needs of these children discussed in the training session were a bit scary. Would I actually be able to make a difference, or would I be a big, fat failure?
It took several months before I was matched up with a little second grade girl at Corbin Primary. I met her on an October day in 2018 with our local mentoring leader. B was a cute little thing, but it was obvious she was not that thrilled with me. I had brought a coloring sheet for her with a few questions for her to answer. No, she did not like reading at all (my favorite thing), her favorite color was black, and her favorite game was pie-in-the-face. Oh mercy! What was I going to do with her for an hour every Thursday morning?
The next time we met, B was slightly less annoyed to see me, but when I talked to her about doing a little reading every time I came, she gave me a look that could sour milk. I soldiered on, continuing to come every week, bringing a game, or a craft to do, as well as a book to read. She began to warm up to me and we started to have some fun. The day B asked if I would help her read an Accelerated Reader with her and help her with the test was a memorable one. We each took turns reading and then she sat down at the computer in the classroom and found the test. I read the five questions and the multiple choice answers to her and she chose the answers. At the end, she groaned and covered her face, waiting to see her score. When she saw five stars appear, her face lit up and she could not believe it! A perfect score!
As the months passed, we both looked forward to our time together. B would give me a big hug when she joined me in the media center and another when I had to leave. I let up on the reading a bit and did whatever she wanted to do. Playing on the playground and charades were some of our favorites. We made valentines that she gave to the principal and the janitor. Recently we made some Thanksgiving cards for the receptionist and the policeman assigned to the school. Then she wanted to make one for a surprise someone. I decided to do that also. We worked side by side, hiding our cards from each other until, glory be! We had made cards for each other! I had a sticker on the one I had made for her that said, “When you hug someone, never be the first one to let go.” We hugged and I said, “Let’s count to three and let go at the same time.” We hugged so hard that when we let go we both lost our balance and fell down! Hysterical laughter ensued.
The last time I saw B was right before Christmas break. I brought her a few small gifts and I read her the Little Golden Book Christmas story that I’ve read every Christmas Eve to my own daughters for decades. Suddenly she ran off to her room and came back holding a stuffed moose with a Christmas sweater on. I collect moose and I had talked to her about them several times, as well as dressing up as one for my Halloween visit with her. She had the biggest, proudest smile on her face when she gave that moose to me. She said, “I won this in a claw game. It took me five dollars of my own money to get it for you!”
Unfortunately, B moved out of the Corbin school district right after that. I’m hoping we can continue seeing each other outside of school through community-based mentoring, but it may not be possible. I don’t know how much of a difference I made in B’s life, but I know we both grew to love each other, and nothing is more life-changing than that.
Ta Da! Happy February to you and if you’re interested in learning more about the AMP program here in Corbin, let me know and I will hook you up with our leader. If you don’t live in Corbin, ask around in your area to find out if you can join a mentoring program there. It’s a great way to make a difference in the life of a child who needs encouragement.