Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Mentors: Making a Difference, One Child at a Time
It’s Thursday, and Todd Evatt and Roger Foster, employees in the Maintenance Department, wait in the cafeteria at Welcome Elementary School for Jamarcus and Cameron, the fourth grade boys they mentor every week. After going through the lunch line together, they sit in the Welcome Café, a private dining area on the stage, to enjoy 30 minutes of one-on-one time. They talk about Jamarcus’ new glasses and Cameron’s new puppies. Both students are excited that they will be recognized on awards day, and they invite their mentors to attend the ceremony.
Not far away at Westcliffe Elementary School, Food Service Operator Marinda Stone works with special needs students to help them develop academic and social skills. “Novalee likes to work with the iPad using different learning games,” she said. “She also loves to tickle people, so we are working on social skills, like ask before you touch,” said Marinda.
Mentors play extremely important roles in the lives of students. According to Welcome Elementary Counselor Letha Evatt, students benefit from having consistent, positive role models. Time spent with a mentor impacts a student’s social and emotional well-being and character development.
Welcome Elementary Principal Chris Phillips said mentors are important because they build personal relationships. “That is what many of our students are missing,” she explained. “They are sharing their hopes and dreams with their mentors,” she said.
Todd explained, “I’ve always had strong role models in my work life, my home life, and my church life. I saw this as an opportunity to help a young man. Hopefully, I can share something that I’ve learned with him, and hopefully, I will make a positive difference in his life.”
Roger said he was nervous about being a mentor. “I didn’t want to do it at first, but now, I can tell you, I am getting more out of this than he is. It’s like I’ve known him for a long time and I care about him,” he said.
Marinda started mentoring students this year because she wanted to help young children now that her teenage boys are in high school. She said seeing the little ones coming through the lunch line made her realize she missed being with children. She said, “I love interacting with them. I hope it makes them feel special knowing that someone cares and is paying attention to them.”
Jamarcus and Cameron are excited that they were selected for mentoring. “It feels good because it feels like your father’s here,” explained Cameron. Todd’s presence allows Jamarcus to express his feelings. “It feels good to have my mentor here and know he is listening,” he said.
“They don’t want to disappoint. Those personal connections are going to outweigh having lunch on the stage. There’s that sense of ‘I want to make you proud of me,’” added Chris.
If you would like to become a mentor to a student in Greenville County Schools, you may contact the school directly or go through Mentor Greenville. Each mentor is required to complete a one-hour training session before being matched with a student. Mentors should be willing to make a commitment of lunch with their mentee once a week during the school year.Mentor Greenville Contact:
Director of Mentor Development