“It’s the best part of my day,” Sergio Lara says of his time with Cliff Schilling, “Having a mentor is fun because we can talk, we play games, and he helps me.”
Cliff and Sergio are TeamMates, part of an organization founded by Tom Osborne, retired Nebraska football coach/athletic director, and his wife Nancy.
During their weekly visits, Cliff and Sergio talk about school and play games like Checkers or Scrabble.
“I became a mentor because I wanted to keep involved,” said Cliff. “It’s definitely a gratifying experience.”
A TeamMates mentor is just another caring adult in a child’s life, providing support, friendship, and a good example to the student, according to Anne Ausdemore, Wisner-Pilger TeamMates coordinator. “Mentors are good listeners, people who care, and who want to help young people.”
The mentor and the student (“mentee”) meet at school and there is no special program they must follow. Their time is social in nature and they talk about their families, play board games, share a hobby, discuss problems, set goals, etc. A mentor is not a tutor or a counselor, but is there to simply develop a friendship.
“When we train mentors, we tell them that they are probably the only person in the child’s life without an agenda,” said Ausdemore. “Just knowing that you’re not expected to change the student’s behavior, study habits, or family life allows mentors to relax and let the relationship just evolve.”
Even though the activities may seem like fun and games, the relationship between the mentor and mentee typically results in a significant improvement in the student’s grades, attendance, and positive self-rating.
For the full story, pick up the October 2 Wisner News-Chronicle, or call 402-529-3228 to subscribe.