Saturday, July 20, 2024

Mentoring Is A Gift We Give Ourselves!

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“I Come for the Children, But Leave with My Life Enriched”

By Jocelyn Ault
Stratford Volunteer Corps

Through the Stratford Volunteer Corps, I have had the joy of getting to know three third grade students (two girls and one boy) at Franklin School. Being in that school has given me a firsthand view of gifted educators and staff members. I am greeted by little people, and their high-pitched voices warm my heart.

The staff that welcomes me, the bulletin boards, and the students I see in the hallways are all indicators of building a culture of respect and learning. Staff know the students by name, and often something about family members, sports interests, or school activities is mentioned as they pass in the halls.

On my first visit I immediately noticed the social and emotional learning emphasis. There were signs of affirmations, and bulletin boards that both educate us and validate our emotions. It is evident students are being encouraged to find positives in themselves and others. We know self-confidence leads to better learning outcomes. The entrance has a display case that honors the diversity of countries of origin found in the school.

I meet with these three during their lunch. We use their eating time to chat about what is going on in their lives. We always do a check-in as to how we feel— and if I forget, they remind me!  All three enjoy sharing their stories and being listened to. They all like what they call “specials.” That is art, gym, music and library.

We have a little time after they finish lunch to read, do projects, or play a game. It is often centered around observing what is going on, like “spring ahead” with the time change and anticipating other changes that happen as spring unfolds. To give a few examples of activities, we have decorated cookies, played games, done art projects, and read books with fun or even crazy storylines to spark imagination. We have talked of travel and science. We explored how random acts of kindness have a ripple effect, and they have done their own acts of kindness by surprising someone with a card they made. Our time together goes quickly.

I am not there as an academic mentor. I don’t need any special skills other than my smile and imagination. I would encourage anyone who wants to feel a bit younger and energized, to consider volunteering. We are enriched by having relationships with children and seeing the world through their eyes. Letting children know adults in our community care about them is important in building a thriving community for all ages.

Find out how you can be involved by clicking on this link:

www.stratfordvolunteercorps.com/user/login/?return=%2Fuser%2Fdashboard%2F

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