Jan 15, 2023

Bill Welton - Mentoring at Walnut Bend Elementary

This last fall I decided to become a mentor volunteer. Over the years, I have heard of the positive experiences from church friends who had been mentors.

Bill Welton - Mentoring at Walnut Bend Elementary

A Decision

This last fall I decided to become a mentor volunteer. Over the years, I have heard of the positive experiences from church friends who had been mentors. The opportunity to relate with, positively influence, be a positive role model and make a difference to, children chosen for the mentoring programs. This was something I thought I could contribute and commit to, even while pushing my comfort zone a little. I finally had the time, and it was my time to try.

Walnut Bend Elementary

I volunteered for a mentoring opportunity at Walnut Bend Elementary. Actually I had three school opportunities to consider, and chose Walnut Bend because they are partnering with LiteracyNow, and their Lunch Bunch program. So no worrying about the curriculum. All I had to do was show up at the school (Wednesdays at 12:15 pm), engage with four 3rd grade boys during their lunchtime, follow the lesson plan for the week and excuse the boys back to their classes, finishing around 1:00 pm. My initial mentoring began in October, during the fall semester, and finished in December for Winter Break. I have started back mentoring in January for the spring semester.

Training for the Role

When I began mentoring I did not know what to fully expect. My experience began by engaging with a LiteracyNow coordinator, who provided training and the materials that would be used for mentoring. I was also connected with the school’s wrap-around specialist who sets up the meeting space, helps you find and gather the kids you will be mentoring, and answers any other questions you may have. 

A Difference in My Life & Theirs

Each week has been somewhat different, especially when you are dealing with the personalities of four boys. Sometimes I feel like I don’t accomplish everything that I would like to accomplish each week. But maybe that is not such a big deal, because what I do sense is that my weekly presence is making a difference. Like when the boys are excited and enthusiastic to see you when you pick them up from class, or begin talking to you about something you discussed during an earlier week. Or they spot you and wave when they don’t know you are there. Or maybe it’s the smiles, stares and waves from other children that you see, that don’t even know who you are. Or a teacher who thanks you as you walk by. When you mentor you are seen, you are noticed and you are appreciated. And it gives you a real appreciation for the teachers and administrators who are dedicated to helping and educating these kids.