TeamMates Of The Month
EDUCATION AND HELPING OTHERS IMPORTANT TO THE DECEMBER 2013 TEAMMATES OF THE MONTH
TeamMates Mentor Megan Pryor plans a career in education. She would like to teach kindergarten through 2nd grade after graduation from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in December 2014. Currently she enjoys her classwork and her TeamMates meetings with Kiara. She and Kiara, who is currently an 8th grade student, started meeting when Kiara was in 5th grade.
Megan said her coursework and a meeting with then TeamMates Advisory Board Member, Kris Baack, Ph.D. Director, Leadership Development for UNL at the Center for Civic Engagement, prompted her interest in the TeamMates mentoring program. At the time when she applied to become a mentor, she thought it would help her get experience working with students. It has, however, she has found that being a part of the program offers additional rewards. Megan has gained an appreciation for meeting a person where she is life and then being able to help her grow into the best version of herself.
"I have enjoyed watching her grow. And I just like to see her every week," Megan said.
They both enjoy crafts and each week they look forward to spending their hour working on some type of project. When they first started meeting, Megan would plan a different craft for each week. They have made key-chain animals and bracelets. This year Megan shared a skill she learned from her grandmother and has taught Kiara how to cross stitch. The cross stich projects are more long term and give them both a project to look forward to each week as well as a feeling of accomplishment over the time it takes to complete them. Kiara is artistic and said that Art is her favorite class. She appreciates that Megan has taught her how to complete many different types of craft and artistic projects.
In addition to crafts they share fun stories about what goes on in their lives. Meeting with Megan gives Kiara of window of what it's like to be a college student. She plans to have a career in law or corrections and would like to become a corrections officer.
Kiara said she likes to help people and she believes that this would be a way for her help kids make better choices. In order for her to have this type of career, she thinks she would also like to go to the University of Nebraska -- Lincoln.
The time spent with Kiara provides a way for Megan to step away from school, stop thinking about upcoming tests and forget, for a short time, what all is going on in her life.
Kiara said she appreciates that she is able to count on meeting with Megan every Friday. It makes her feel special at school to have a TeamMate because, "most people don't have TeamMates. I am thankful for my TeamMate and all the fun things we do." However for Kiara one of the special things about being a part of TeamMates is that, "Megan encourages me."
November 2013 TeamMates of the Month Look Forward to Their Time Together
One of Terran's favorite things about being a part of the TeamMates Mentoring Program of Lincoln is the simple fact that his mentor, Kathy Paisley, comes to school to see him. He enjoys having a break from school and gets to spend time with an additional adult who cares about what is going on in his life.
Kathy and Terran started meeting at Belmont school when Terran was in 4th grade. Now he is a freshman at North Star where they are beginning their 6th year as TeamMates.
Kathy first heard about the TeamMates program from friends who were volunteering with TeamMates. She had already decided it was something she'd like to do. So when Sheridan Lutheran Church began to reach out to Belmont school as part of the church's TeamMates ministry she got involved. "I just know how important other adults are in the life of a young person. I know that having a caring adult in the life of a young person is significant in helping kids be successful."
When asked what has been the most important aspect for her, she said, "Terran and I have become friends. I think we both look forward to the hour that we spend with each other." She said she has enjoyed watching him grow and develop and finds it rewarding to know that their meetings are making a difference in his life. Plus she feels fortunate to have a friendship with a young person she probably wouldn't have met otherwise.
"I have always liked kids. I appreciate the sense of loyalty we have to each other. I feel lucky to watch Terran grow and mature."
For Terran, TeamMates makes him feel happier at school. His favorite activity has been that they play basketball. They reported (while laughing) that they are both "kind of" competitive. Kathy said that the year before she had had breast cancer and had been going through chemo. "That chemo really takes it out of you. It was fun to get back and play. Terran really helped me stay motivated to get back into shape. Some days we were both really good and some days we were both really bad, but we didn't care. We both got our game back."
They normally eat lunch together because that seems to be a good time for his schedule. After lunch they usually move into the media center. "Terran has taught me some new computer games," Kathy said. Also, they spend time talking about what is going on in his life right now.
Terran's favorite subjects in school are PE and science. Kathy proudly said that Terran has been getting very good grades in science.
Terran said that he finds being a part of TeamMates is helpful and fun. He views Kathy as a role model.
Over the years they have enjoyed many special times and Kathy shared a recent highlight. Terran had recently visited his grandparents in South Dakota. He brought a small granite buffalo and told her about its importance in his culture. Kathy said she appreciates that he shared a memento of his culture with her.
October 2013 TeamMates of the Month are Honored to be Friends
TeamMates student, Alysa said one of the most important lessons she's learned while being TeamMates with Mary Studier is "I've learned to speak up for myself and not be afraid of just being myself. Mary has encouraged me to fulfill my dreams."
Mary said she finds Alysa to be a very special young woman. When they first started meeting, Alysa was shy and a little timid about speaking up or asking for help. Mary continued proudly, "we are having exciting times now because Alysa has become more of her own person."
Alysa said she was bullied when she was younger. She credited Mary with helping her cope by offering advice on how to handle many of the situations. "She's always there to listen and understand. If something happens, she and I talk about ways to respond."
Alysa and Mary have been meeting for a little more than 5 years. Alysa is now a junior at Northeast High School. When they started meeting Alysa was in 6th grade at Culler Middle School. While they most look forward to "just spending time together," they also eagerly anticipate working together each week on the New York Times and the Journal Star crossword puzzles.
Together, Mary and Alysa have strengthened Alysa's organizational skills. "Mary has made a big impact on my life. Without her, I don't know where I'd be. She cares a lot and she's helped me plan every step of what I want to do."
Alysa would like to become a chef. She and Mary have talked about her career path. After she graduates from high school, she plans to attend the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, TX. After completing her studies there, she plans to return to Lincoln and attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration. Her long-range goal is to open a restaurant.
Alysa said she is honored to be friends with Mary and she believes being a part of the TeamMates program has helped shape her. "I know Mary is there for me and that makes me feel more comfortable at school." Because of her positive experience, Alysa has plans to become a TeamMates mentor.
Mary has enjoyed that she and Alysa "hit it off right away" and that each week, as friends often do, they pick up right where they left off. "It gives me a sense of accomplishment. Alysa has good support at home, but also it is nice for me to be another person outside who can confirm and reaffirm that the direction she is heading is the one that she desires."
Mary said she's learned many things from Alysa and believes the TeamMates experience has helped her become a better listener. She said she decided to become a TeamMates mentor because she loves being around children "They are the future. TeamMates is a remarkable program that allows a butterfly to come forth. I am proud of Alysa and I am proud to be her friend."
September 2013 TeamMates of the Month Have Fun and Build for the Future
Peeter and Bill love to banter back and forth and one of their favorite ways to joke with each other is taking opposite sides regarding Notre Dame Football. They also like to talk and play board games.
Peeter especially appreciates the opportunity to play board games. "Playing board games is fun. You don't always get to do that with family." He shared that his older sister is already in college.
And where does she go to college? Bill asks.
"Notre Dame" Peeter responds.
Peeter and Bill have been meeting since January 2012 when Peeter was in 4th grade at St. Joseph's Catholic School. A big part of their meeting time is spent talking about daily situations. "We play. We talk. We banter back and forth about football -- a lot." Bill said. Playing board games, Trouble is one of their favorites, allows them to talk about what is going on in their lives while they play.
Peeter, an articulate and perceptive young man, said he has learned from having a TeamMates mentor that he can do almost anything he wants to if he sets his mind to it. He also appreciates that he has had the opportunity to be introduced to Bill's place of business.
Bill works at HobbyTown USA -- a TeamMates business partner that has found many ways to support the Lincoln TeamMates program. Peeter has even helped Bill with work. "I've brought some cool remote cars and prototypes to ‘pass the kids test'," Bill said.
Before he became a mentor, Bill said he was aware of the TeamMates program, but he really became interested when his employer wanted to increase their community philanthropy. "We wanted to focus our attention, as a company, on one area, on one thing, and we picked TeamMates. We also appreciated that TeamMates completed onsite training for all of the HobbyTown staff."
HobbyTown had shirts featuring the TeamMates logo made for all the staff. "The shirts are a point of pride at HobbyTown. If you are a mentor at HobbyTown, you receive one of the shirts and staff members wear the shirts on mentoring days. So it is easy to see who is mentoring and on which days. Like today there were three of us wearing the shirts and mentoring.
"From a personal standpoint I just get invigorated. I probably have got more out of being TeamMates than has Peeter.
"God gives you three things in life, time, talent and treasure. I don't have a lot of treasure and I have zero talent, so the only thing that is left to give is time. When you are giving time to youth, you think years down the road you will see dividends. I will never know. I just have faith that my little way of helping will make a positive influence when they are older. It's very important to be consistent. I try to be here every week." Bill and Peeter met 34 times (every week of school) during 2012-2013.
Peeter calls Bill "his buddy." He appreciates that kids "can learn how to be a good person and how to work in the real life. He or she can help you. Give you a sample of the future. Plus it is fun to have a mentor who is a manger of a toy store," Peeter said.
Peeter said he likes to think about the future, and in the future he may like to play football, but he's realistic. "I like to think about the future, but stay in the present -- it doesn't do too much to worry about tomorrow. It is important to work hard and do a good job today," Peeter said.
Bill said he feels he helps Peeter by being a sounding board. "We talk about anything he wants to talk about." With a smile he also added, "Of course my major goal is to get him to play football at Notre Dame."
Bill has always enjoyed being involved with youth and while his own sons are "long grown up," he is still is the treasurer for their former Boy Scout Troop. "I've always believed that if you work with the young you will stay young."
August 2013 TeamMates of the Month
Ashley and Deb have often talked about how lucky they feel to be matched. They find it "easy" to be with each other since they started meeting in 2006, half way through Ashley's 6th grade year of school. At the time of the TeamMates of the Month interview, Ashley was looking forward to May graduation and shared that this pre-high school graduation time has been a special time for both of them.
"I'm really excited about graduation. I am happy that I've accomplished all that I have," Ashley said.
As they began to build their new relationship, they played board games. They would also go out and walk around the school campus. "We called it our ‘Walk and Talk'," Deb said. They also spent time imagining what other cities around the world are like. They would look them up on the Internet and also look up the weather and talk about them.
Ashley shared that at the first part of their one-hour meeting, they would discuss a plan for how to divide up the hour. Sometimes they would work on Ashley's courses and homework, and sometimes they would just decide to have a fun day.
They have learned from each other. Because Deb was trusting enough to share some of the difficulties that had happened in her life, Ashley said she learned that "there is a light at the end of the tunnel and life goes on."
Deb said she believes she has gained as much out of their relationship as Ashley has. "I have learned a lot from her. At such a young age, she is such a strong, resilient girl." Deb noted that Ashley has had to cope with some difficulties too, yet she always has a smile. She doesn't let difficulties and challenges bring her down. She always keeps an optimistic outlook and "picks herself up.
"I wish I would have had her determination and strength at her age," Deb said. "I've always admired that she has this really good character and she doesn't have that sense of entitlement that some teenagers do. She is always so respectful and if she wants something she will figure out a way to make it happen. I just think that is so admirable."
Ashley said she has really appreciated Deb's positivity. "She tells me to never give up. There is never a sad moment with her. We always have such a fun time and the hour goes by so fast. I pretty much just like everything about her."
Deb said she became a TeamMates mentor because she likes working with people and helping others. She had come to realize the importance of having an anchor when you are going through those tough years of middle school and high school. "Even if you have all good experiences, high school and middle school can be a really trying time."
In her case, she had six siblings and her parents were busy. She remembered her own struggles, and wished she would have had the kind of support a mentor can provide. She felt she would have benefited from the extra guidance.
Ashley said that when she was younger she was very sad and angry that her parents were divorced. Being a part of TeamMates helped her deal with that. "I honestly believe that if I wouldn't have had Deb, or even another TeamMates mentor, I wouldn't have turned out to be how I am today."
Ashley knows she would have matured, but she also believes that because of having an additional caring adult, she has grown more. She also credits her relationship with Deb for helping her overcome most of her shyness. Deb added that Ashley has also learned to be more diplomatic as well.
After graduation, Ashley's post-secondary and career plans include helping people with physical and/or mental disabilities. Her sister has experienced some delayed development. Deb proudly noted that "Ashley is so, so good with her little sister."
During the year, Deb and Ashley have been looking into and applying for scholarships. Ashley received a TeamMates Scholarship and a Learn to Dream Scholarship. She plans to start in the fall at Southeast Community College and later transfer to complete her college credits.
Deb said that being a part of the TeamMates program and experiencing the one-to-one relationship increased her awareness of the importance of the program. "I wish every student could have a neutral party. I so underestimated the value of the relationship. Even if school appears to be going well, it is still hard and students can really benefit from having a TeamMate."
|Ronnie holds one of the Word Search books that John had saved from previous years.|
July 2013 TeamMates of the Month, Ronnie and John McGovern, Have A Meaningful Relationship
TeamMates of the Month stories focus on what is special or what in the relationship has seemed successful. Even so, it is sometimes difficult to describe how genuinely meaningful the relationship seems and the July TeamMates fit in that category. John McGovern and Ronnie have been meeting since Ronnie was in the 4th grade. At the time of the interview Ronnie was looking forward to graduation in May 2013. Amid the bantering and joking, it became evident that their relationship is very special.
John brought a large folder of paper and books that served as a funny and poignant diary of their meetings over the years since 4th grade. On the day of the interview they thoroughly enjoyed going through the books they had used and the many notes and drawings John had saved over the years. There were word search books that they went through on a regular basis. Ronnie used to draw a lot and John brought a stack of old drawings he had saved. Some of the old pictures were those Ronnie had drawn of John. They laughed at those and of the ones of when Ronnie drew himself as a superhero.
John also shared the 4th grader answers to a list of interview questions he had prepared for their first meeting. Ronnie's answers helped John learn about his family and his interests. For example, he had a Gameboy with six games and a younger sister who wanted to be a part of the TeamMates meetings. At the bottom of the sheet, John had noted that when they first met, Ronnie shook hands with a firm grip and maintained eye contact.
One of their favorite activities was to write to each other in a secret code. The messages that they would give to each other featured a series of numbers that Ronnie and John would then, de-code to identify the message. They have been doing it so long, that they don't even have to write down the letters that are signified by the numbers. Ronnie said that they have the number meanings memorized, especially John's signature line, ‘Your Friend,'.
For one of their favorite projects, John took apart his old squirrel feeder and then Ronnie drew a new plan for it as a bird feeder. John cut the pieces and then would bring the pieces and the tools to school. They worked together to assemble it. Ronnie gave the Bird Feeder to his mom. She still has it.
John said he has enjoyed his role as a mentor and his long term friendship with Ronnie. "Ronnie is a special kid. He's very bright. The family affection and the caring among his mom and his are just unique. It is a very special relationship all around."
John has enjoyed seeing Ronnie grow up. It has been really special seeing him grow up from a little 4th grade student to a young man and high school graduate. In addition to a caring family, John said, "he's had some really good teachers."
"The really special thing is to see how Ronnie has handled so many difficulties." John's career is in Corrections and he is very familiar with how difficulties in childhood can set kids on a path that doesn't lead to graduation. "It has been special to see someone take adversity and turn it into a positive. When Ronnie gets into the business world and when he gets into the real world, I really believe that Ronnie is going to have a good career because of the way he has grown. Because of his experiences, he's going to already know how to react to certain circumstances. He's going to have experiences that others have never had and he's going to have more in that tool chest to help him succeed."
Ronnie said that some of his favorite senior classes have been oral communications, human behavior, German and digital art. His current plans for after high school graduation include "basics" at Southeast Community College. Then he plans to transfer credits to UNL and pursue a degree, but he has not decided on a major field of study. He believes that he might like to have a career related to Human Behavior.
Ronnie said he thought that their relationship had taught John patience and tolerance. In the early years Ronnie admitted he was in the Principal's Office more than a few times. "John gained patience and tolerance in order to stick with me."
John said, jokingly, "Ronnie has brought me along pretty well."
On a more serious note, Ronnie credited John for helping him enhance his vocabulary and speaking skills. John would bring books to their meetings. "John really brought my vocabulary and my speaking skills way up."
John noted again that when they first met, Ronnie already had good human interaction skills -- a firm hand shake and good eye contact - and they worked together to build on those skills. Now Ronnie is very articulate and justified in feeling confident about his abilities to communicate effectively.
At one point Ronnie was going to move to Iowa. John had written him a parting letter which was one of the items in the folder. He shared some of the parting advice he had written including ‘Things that appear first not to be good, in actuality turn out to be a blessing. So much of the outcome of situations is determined by your attitude. You have all the ingredients to become a success. Ask for what you want. Be willing to take a risk. Remember the experience of what you get, when you don't get what you want,' but one of the statements that Ronnie found to be most meaningful and indicative of their relationship was ‘If you want a friend, be a friend.'
May 2013 TeamMates of the Month Like Challenging Each Other
When Kirsten and Tara Neal meet, one of the highlights is playing the game Sorry; just talking about it, brought on good-humored banter about which of them wins more often. Kirsten claims she wins every week. Tara differs. The competitiveness is friendly, but they take the challenge to win serious. They both admitted to being rather (okay very) competitive. So while the most important aspect of their relationship has been to discuss what is going on in their lives, they almost always play a game of Sorry.
Kirsten said her favorite aspect of TeamMates is having someone to talk to. She said she's had some rough times and values having another adult outside of family in whom she can confide. Kirsten knows that everything she discusses with Tara is kept between the two of them and she knows that Tara is not going to judge her for the perspective she has about the issues she's going through right now.
"We try to talk through decisions," Tara said.
Kirsten initiated becoming a TeamMates mentee while she was in 6th grade. Some of her friends had mentors and she realized she also wanted an additional caring adult in her life. She was on the waiting list until 7th grade when she and Tara became TeamMates. They have actually known each other since Kirsten was in third grade because two of Tara's children were also in Kirsten's grade. Kirsten, and Tara's children, will graduate from Lincoln East High School spring 2013.
Tara learned of TeamMates at her church and then also found that her employer, Lincoln Benefit Life, is a strong proponent of employees volunteering to be TeamMates mentors. Tara had several motivations to become part of the program including the desire to be a role model for her children and offer them the example of giving back to the community. Tara noted, "TeamMates is very rewarding for me, especially now that Kirsten is a senior and going on to college. Being part of the program doesn't take a lot of time; anyone can fit it into their schedule." She has shared her enthusiasm with others and her husband is also a TeamMate. "He's really enjoying it too," Tara said.
Kirsten also views giving back to the community as an important part of her life. After she graduates from high school this spring, her plans include attending college at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa to major in elementary education. She will graduate with endorsements for Special Education and Reading.
Kirsten's mother is a Special Education teacher. Kirsten has been helping Special Education students within her school as a volunteer since she was in 7th grade. She has maintained contact and has continued to help one of her friends even after the other student moved to Southeast High School.
Kirsten understands the importance of her relationships with the Special Education children she has volunteered to help and befriend. She knows it has been important for them to have someone at school who they can count on. "They know I am one of their friends. They know I'm not going to judge them and that I will always be there for them." Because of her dedication, Kirsten has been recognized at Lincoln East High School receiving the Spartan Challenge Award.
She is looking forward to being able to help future Special Education students with the same compassionate spirit as their teacher and friend.
Tara said she feels fortunate to have a relationship with someone who is mature beyond her years and who has the desire to help others. While she will miss seeing Kirsten on a regular basis, she is excited for her. "The future is a whole new chapter for her to open up and write."
April 2013 TeamMates of the Month Enjoy Each Other's Company
April 2013 TeamMates of the Month, Matt McKay and Alex, have a great time during their one hour, weekly mentoring meetings. They "mostly talk," Alex said, but they also enjoy playing games while they visit. They like board games such as Chess and "paper games" such as Tic-tac-toe and Hangman. They also enjoy getting out and playing fetch with Mrs. Chapo's dog. (Mrs. Chapo, a teacher at North Star High School, brings her therapy dog to school.)
They started meeting in Alex's junior year of school and they hit it off right away. Alex is a senior this year and very much looking forward to graduating in May 2013. Alex first learned of TeamMates through a Native American club of which he was a member.
Matt, an on-air radio personality at KFRX Radio, Three Eagles Communications Company, said he first learned about TeamMates through his work. On-air interviews provided a great vantage point from which to learn about the program. Hearing the stories and seeing the impact the program has had on the lives of both the mentees and the mentors captivated his interest. In addition to mentoring, Matt has volunteered his time to serve as an emcee for several Lincoln TeamMates events.
Matt decided to get involved after personal reflection and the realization that during his time in high school and junior high school, he had many mentors and father figures who had made a positive impact on his life. He has found the program to be rewarding.
"Mentees need mentors to help them along their way," McKay said, "but we mentors need the mentees. Building a relationship with a young person allows the mentor a window into another world. It provides a connection with and an understanding of people other than our peers. It connects us to another world and to different peer groups. One of the reasons why Lincoln is a great place to live is that we all have these connections and TeamMates is one of those organizations that builds connections."
This connection has brought about new personal skills, as Alex credits Matt with helping him to become less shy. Matt proudly agrees that Alex has become more vocal and has improved his communication style. "He's more confident interacting with others."
Alex also appreciates that Matt helped him and his sister through the process of getting jobs at the Lincoln Children's Zoo. Being a part of the Zoo Crew is very important to Alex. After high school graduation, he plans to attend Southeast Community College and then continue on to the University of Nebraska to pursue a degree in animal science. His dream job is to work at the zoo with the animals and to teach children about the animals.
Matt has also helped Alex understand the importance of school, grades and graduating by sharing his own education background and steps to a successful career.
Matt said it has been very rewarding for him to see Alex gain confidence in communicating with others and has been exciting to see him improve his inter-personal skills. "These are skill sets that are going to play a crucial role in his future both at school and later in his career."
|Larry Haughton and Harry covered these shelves in the Media Center.|
March 2013 TeamMates of the Month Find it a Joy to Call Each Other Friends
Larry Haughton has been a mentor to Harry for more than two and one half years. In that time he has found Harry to be "a pure joy to work with in every way." That is why Larry decided to nominate Harry as mentee of the month and wanted Harry to be recognized for all of his great qualities while he is still in 8th grade.
Harry and Larry have been TeamMates since Harry was in 6th grade. Larry admires Harry's respectfulness and his willingness to help others. As a team they always ask the school staff and school facilitator, Dr. Charf, if there are special projects to work on. They have completed several including folding T-shirts for a special event and making media shelves more useful by covering them with paper.
Harry is an extremely diligent worker, Larry said, and he credits Harry's parents for the values they have shared that have helped Harry develop a great work ethic.
"Harry is also a very good student," Larry said proudly.
Harry wants to be an engineer and when the two meet for their mentoring time, they discuss Harry's grades. They are both mindful that good grades in math and science are crucial to Harry going on to college to become an engineer. Larry is confident that Harry will continue to earn the grades he needs. "There's no reason he won't become an engineer or an architect."
In addition to talking about grades, Larry said he likes to come prepared to talk about current events, such as the recent presidential election. Larry acknowledged being a "history nut" and said they enjoy talking about historical events.
While they chat, they also play games. Fast-moving card games and a game involving building and blue prints, are among their favorites.
Harry said that Larry helps him with the blue prints and then the actual construction that takes place in the Cargo Bridge game. Larry has helped him learn about bracing and utilizing angles. The game experience has taught him that if it isn't engineered correctly, the structure falls.
One of Harry strongest character traits is his care for others and respectful nature. Larry said he first became aware of this quality when he learned that Harry helped a neighbor clean a snow-filled sidewalk because she couldn't do it herself. Also, Larry said, he is always respectful, addressing adults with Mr. or Mrs., not by their first names.
Larry first became interested in the TeamMates program through his church. "Throughout my working career, Lincoln was good for me," Larry said. TeamMates offers a way to give back.
Harry is very, very special to me and that keeps me coming. We've only missed a couple of times in the three years because of sickness or a special occasion. "The other joy that I get out of it, and actually I consider it ‘my paycheck', every time I come, Harry is waiting for me, and it is a joy to see him."
February 2013 TeamMates of the Month Celebrate Their 4th Year
Kathy Vader and Jessica are celebrating their 4th year of being TeamMates. They started their mentoring relationship in the spring of 2009, while Jessica was in 5th grade at Prescott Elementary. Jessica is enjoying her first year of high school.
When asked what she has come to appreciate most about the TeamMates program, Jessica responded "It's just nice to talk with someone at school."
When they first started meeting, they liked to complete crafts and play games. Sometimes they played basketball. They also enjoyed playing card games. One of Jessica's favorite projects was a blanket they crafted last school year. The blanket was a project they worked on in advance of Jessica having her tonsils removed. She and Kathy had decided the blanket would provide comfort during Jessica's recuperation time. Now when they meet, Jessica said "Most of the time we just talk."
This year the conversation centers on what is going on in Jessica's life right now. They talk about her grades, how to study for finals and discuss scholarship and college options. Jessica said Kathy helps her by sharing what her own children did when they were preparing for college.
Jessica believes that because of their relationship, she works harder in school, focuses more on getting good grades, and has set goals to go to college.
Kathy proudly added that Jessica has always had good grades, and has gone from having good grades to very good grades. Further, Kathy said, Jessica understands the value of studying for finals and the importance of getting good grades. Kathy credits Jessica's home environment for the value placed on doing well in school and moving toward college. Jessica hasn't picked out a post-secondary school yet, but plans a career in medicine. She's specifically interested in neo-natal or children's medicine.
"Jessica has always talked about the medical field. That has always been her goal," Kathy said.
Kathy first learned about the TeamMates program from media publicity, but she credits one of the managers at work for actually inducing her and several other US Bank employees to get involved.
Kathy said her favorite aspect of being a TeamMate is the opportunity to be involved with a young person and to watch them achieve progress towards their hopes, dreams and aspirations. She has enjoyed watching Jessica grow from the young, and somewhat shy person she was to the more mature young lady she has become.
|Roland Temme, Law and Keh Wah|
January 2013 TeamMates of the Month Are Honored to be TeamMates
TMCO has a Community Partners relationship with Park Middle School and that led to the TeamMates match between TMCO President, Roland Temme, and Law.
TMCO has adopted the school and participates in Junior Achievement and the TeamMates programs at Park Middle School, Roland said. Around the time when Roland was learning more about TeamMates and had become interested in volunteering as TeamMates mentor, he heard about Law's situation. Roland contacted the school Principal to not only begin mentoring, but to specifically mentor Law. "I said I would be honored to be his TeamMate."
Law's family members are Burmese immigrants and Law is not only completing his middle school coursework, he must learn in the unfamiliar language of English. He is learning English as part of the regular curriculum.
Roland and Law began meeting during the 2011-2012 academic year with the help of interpreter, Kehler Wah, who also works at TMCO and is on record as Law's other TeamMate. Keh, as he prefers, met Roland when another TMCO employee needed an interpreter. Keh later applied to work at TMCO.
Keh believes the TeamMates program is very helpful to students from other countries as a way to make it easier for them to learn within their new home. He also very much appreciates that TMCO provides opportunities for the employees to volunteer at the school.
Law's appreciation for the program and Roland was evidenced in his choice of clothing for the day of the interview and the TeamMates of the Month photo. Law's shirt is handmade and, according to his culture, worn only on special days and holidays, Keh said.
In the beginning, Keh came to all the weekly meetings, Roland said, but now he and Law have learned how to communicate with each other and don't need Keh's help as often.
Law's favorite activities include games of Rock, Paper Scissors and drawing. Roland and he communicate and work on the English alphabet by drawing pictures. Roland said one of the big differences that Law must deal with, is that his native written language reads from right to left while English reads from left to right.
Law is a very good artist and not surprisingly, art is one of his favorite school subjects. He also agreed that TeamMates has helped him improve his reading and writing skills.
Law has come a long way, Roland said proudly. "Soon we're going to soon be able to talk with each other and be friends."
Roland said he finds the process of giving the most rewarding aspect of being a part of TeamMates. He appreciates the opportunity it gives him to be able to help Law. Roland noted that Law always has a big smile on his face when he comes from the classroom to meet with him.
December 2012 TeamMates of the Month Learn About Each Other While Completing Crafts and Special Projects
Sue Whalen and Ashleigh started meeting in 2008 when Ashleigh was in 4th grade. Since beginning their mentoring relationship, they have worked on many projects and are pleased to have won the TeamMates Amazing Race for two years. (The Amazing Race project featured weekly challenges of various community service projects such as making and delivering May Day handmade flowers and cards to a local nursing home, trash pickup or other volunteer activities to make school a better place.) One project they especially enjoyed was making table tents with positive quotes that were distributed around school.
They also like to create and complete craft projects. "Ashleigh is really creative and artsy," Sue said. "We've completed sewing projects and we've done some baking to celebrate the end of the school year." They have also made jewelry and faux painted small bottles.
"We do a lot of artsy stuff and then we talk at the same time. And we laugh. We laugh a lot." Sue said.
In the course of talking and laughing they have also learned some important lessons from each other. One of the most important lessons Ashleigh said she has learned from Sue is to always pursue your dreams and reach for your goals.
By being a part of TeamMates, Ashleigh has come to understand "that there are goals in life to shoot for." Ashleigh's goals are to graduate from high school, go to college and enjoy a good career in nursing or as a special education teacher. Or, she may want to work with animals, possibly in animal rescue. She is sure she wants a career that allows her to help others.
"Ashleigh has a big heart and she is always very thoughtful," Sue said.
"I've learned to be nice to everybody," Ashleigh said, "help others if they need help, and always pursue your dreams."
Sue became interested in TeamMates after hearing about it from program founder, Dr. Tom Osborne. Sue learned that her employer, Lincoln Electric System (LES), supports TeamMates and that there were other LES co-workers volunteering as TeamMates mentors. "Thanks to LES, I was able to be a part of the program." LES allows their employees the time and flexibility to participate. "They allow us a lot of flexibility and time to set up what works best with my schedule and what is most convenient for both of us, which I think is wonderful."
At first, Sue said she was really nervous about becoming a TeamMate. She hadn't had a lot of experience with children. However, she kept hearing about how rewarding it is to be a TeamMate.
She said her goal is to follow Ashleigh through high school and college as well. "I've enjoyed watching her grow and mature and seeing how she changes." She likes to listen to Ashleigh's dreams and plans. "I want to do anything I can to help her achieve her dreams and plans. The reward of being a TeamMate is beyond what I had anticipated.
"We know that all TeamMates relationships are valuable and important, but we always refer to each other as ‘THE BEST TEAMMATE EVER!'"
|Rice' and Dave Merrill give each other a "High Five."|
November 2012 TeamMates of the Month Share Fun Times and Many Interests
Dave Merrill and Rice' have been meeting since Rice' was in third grade. Rice', pronounced Ri-(with a short i vowel sound)-shay, has been going to school at Saratoga since preschool.
Rice' said he first learned about the TeamMates program at school from his school facilitator, Cheri Parent. Dave learned of the program through his Kiwanis service club. "Our mission in Kiwanis is to change the world one child, in one community at a time, so TeamMates seemed like a perfect fit."
This is Dave's first TeamMates match. "I've been involved in lots of volunteer activities. This one seems to matter the most. We never miss a week," he said as he smiled at Rice'. "We reschedule for later in the week, if my work gets in the way."
Rice' appreciates Dave's help with school work. "He helps me stay on task." They have worked on writing and spelling. Rice's favorite school subject is math and he wants to go to college after he graduates from high school. He thinks he'd like to become an architect and would enjoy using the computer to design buildings. He's interested in creating some special buildings for children.
The two share a common interest in basketball. They head to the gym for most of their weekly meetings. Dave proudly indicated that Rice' has become a very good player. "It's been interesting because in 3rd grade, Rice' couldn't beat me in HORSE and now he can." Rice' has also enjoyed learning some magic tricks from Dave. They are currently trying to master a very complicated magic trick using playing cards.
In addition to having fun, this pair has learned from each other. Rice' said he has learned that it is important to be seen as a role model for other children at school. Dave said he has learned about leadership. "Rice' is already a leader. He has this natural gift."
Dave encourages other adults to become TeamMates mentors. "If you think you are too busy or you're waiting to be a TeamMates mentor, don't. It's an hour a week with the best rewards you could ever imagine."
October 2012 TeamMates of the Month are Understanding Friends
Lisa and Phyllis Vculek have been meeting since Lisa was in 5th grade at Roper Elementary. Lisa was excited to learn that she and her mentor Phyllis were nominated for October 2012 TeamMates of the Month. Lisa and her School Facilitator, Jan Krien, surprised Phyllis with the news.
Krien, who was also very pleased to find out about the nomination, said, "TeamMates allows these two to be friends and supportive of each other. They've been together for three years. Each has an understanding and a genuine fondness for the other.
"Phyllis seems to know when to talk and when to listen. There seems to be balance in their relationship that allows each of them to support each other; encourage each other and enjoy each other in just the right way. It's a connection graced with understanding, kindness and patience."
Phyllis said she first learned of TeamMates in the media. She is a retired nurse. In addition to being able to work with a student, she enjoys that TeamMates helps her have filled and fulfilling days. "You are doing something to help someone. I enjoy Lisa. She is a sweet little girl." She also said, "Lisa keeps me young. She keeps me up on things."
Lisa's favorite aspect of TeamMates is that she has Phyllis as her mentor. Regarding the TeamMates program, Lisa feels it is a good program because students get to build a relationship with another adult. "It is good because you get to talk to them and discuss problems. Sometimes you get help with homework." Lisa said that a lot of her friends also have TeamMates and look forward to spending time with them. Lisa said she is thankful she has Phyllis as her TeamMate.
While they chat about what is going on in Lisa's life, they also play games and Yahtzee is one of their favorites. Phyllis said proudly, "Lisa is really good at games."
Lisa is also in intramural sports at her middle school. She is playing volleyball now and plans to play basketball next season. "She's very good," Phyllis said.
Some of their conversations focus on Lisa's future and even though she is still in middle school, they have talked about after high school.
After graduation, Lisa hopes to pursue a post-secondary education in photography. When Lisa received her first camera, she said, she took pictures of birds, trees and her dog -- animal subjects are a favorite. Photography is something she's always been interested in and a career goal is to expand on her talent so that someday she could take pictures for National Geographic.
"Their relationship is solid," said Krien. "Everyone needs a person who just seems to know. Everyone needs a TeamMate."
September 2012 TeamMates Are Proud of Their Mature Relationship
Dorie and Sarah Kelen have been meeting since Dorie was in 4th grade. Dorie is one of the more than 60 TeamMates high school seniors who will graduate in May 2013.
As Dorie recalls, her parents found out about the TeamMates program and after talking it over with her, they nominated her for the program. Sarah was looking for a way to volunteer because she was aware of the number of children in the community who needed one-to-one time with an adult. She knew she could be the supportive mentor and friend a student needs.
"At the time I lived across the street from Prescott, so I thought ‘ok I will meet with a student at Prescott; that would be really convenient.'" Fast forward several years; it has worked out great.
"If I would have known, up-front that I was going to be meeting with the same student for eight years, I would of thought, no, that was too daunting," but she decided, "I can make a one-year commitment and then will re-evaluate at the end of the year. And every year, at the end of the year we would say, ‘should we meet again next year?' So, I went to Prescott, and Irving, and Park, and Lincoln High and pretty soon Dorie is going to be graduating."
Both are somewhat amazed by the fact that they have known each other through many changes. Dorie has matured from an elementary student who at first used to look forward to getting out of class and playing games during their meetings. While Sarah has advanced in her career and become a mom. "I have known her most of her life at this point," Sarah said.
"Almost half of my life she has known me, so it's a wonderful thing to find an adult who is willing to be less of an adult and more of a friend."
"We used to play toss-across," Sarah said. "So our conversations have changed."
Dorie agrees. Since middle school, they have talked about and planned for college, looked at Websites and discussed the classes she'd need in high school in order to be ready for college.
Dorie has almost "always" been certain of her career path. She plans to attend the pre-veterinarian program at UNL. When she has completed that, she will attend Iowa State to complete veterinarian school as part of the cooperative program between the University of Nebraska and Iowa State University.
Animals have always been a passion for Dorie. "We'd meet and she would tell me every detail about every squirrel on the way to school," Sarah said with a smile.
Dorie credits Sarah for helping her become more focused academically and with goal-setting.
"Academics were never a problem for Dorie. She was always interested in reading and learning things on her own." Sarah helped her work on balancing what she wanted to do with what she needed to do. Today she is much more able to look ahead and prioritize. Along the way, Dorie has learned that she enjoys challenging herself and as a result has taken several advanced placement classes and four years of German.
Sarah says she likes being a part of TeamMates. "It's not about some adult coming in to fix a problem for a kid … but, just to be there and to listen." She appreciates that students need to just talk or play games, and know that the person is going to be there regularly to check in and listen to what they are thinking about. The students also understand that in the case of most problems, the mentor is not going to intervene or call them into the office.
"It's been fun to watch you just become a new adult person," Sarah said proudly.
"I think I am a better person for it," Dorie said.
When they first started meeting, Dorie said, she liked being a part of the TeamMates program because she could get out of class. "Now it is more about being able to interact with a person who's there to support you. And the only thing they are getting out of it is just the satisfaction of being able to help a student. I think everyone would benefit from at least some time with a TeamMate. It is great to have that one person who says "you can do this, you're good at it, I know you can."
August 2012 TeamMates of the Month Believe in Each Other
When school starts at the end of August, Kendell will be attending 7th grade at Mickle Middle School. He and his mentor, Rich Summers, are looking forward to Kendell being in his second year of middle school and both are looking forward to another great year of being TeamMates.
They have been matched and meeting since December of 2008, when Kendell was still attending elementary school.
When asked what is his favorite part of the TeamMates program, Kendell said, it has helped him complete the work he knows he needs to finish, for example school assignments. That aspect of their relationship has provided growing experience for both of them.
Kendell said that Rich has helped him to learn to work on his assignments and to make them a priority. He says he has improved at getting them done.
For Rich, the process has taught him patience. There were times when they first started meeting, that Rich felt he wanted to help Kendell be more focused. However, after getting to know Kendell better, Rich has learned "Kendell wants to take his time and get it right rather than rush things. He will get it done and that is the bottom line."
Rich, who works in the Lincoln Public Schools District Office within the Print Department, finds the TeamMates mentoring program appealing for many reasons. He has enjoyed getting to know Kendell. His own children are grown and he likes the opportunity to again be a part of what is going on within schools. He added that he is pleased to see the changes and growth he has noticed Kendell attain. "I look forward to spending time with him."
When they meet, they play games such as UNO, which helps with math skills, and they like to look up the Lego Website and play games. They also like to compete against each other in basketball and depending on the weather, will either play in the gym or outside.
One of their favorite pastimes is to read to each other. They read past favorites and have found new ones.
As an example of Kendell's love of reading, Rich proudly shared a story about how Kendell would keep a book set aside so that it was ready for them to read the next time they were together. "Kendell really loves to read."
They have talked about setting goals for Kendell's future. He wants to attend college someday. They have talked about achieving goals. "Anything is possible," Rich said. "Your education is what you need to back it."
Kendell said several of his friends wish they could have a TeamMate like Rich.
"I have a good person here," Rich said.
Kendell responded "I know I do."
July 2012 TeamMates of the Month Look Forward to the Future
De Tonack believes in the power of Lincoln TeamMates as a way to make a difference in the life of a young person. She encourages those she meets to become a part of it. "You are needed and it's worthwhile."
De has been a part of the Lincoln TeamMates program since 2007 when she and her mentee, Robert, were matched.
In those five years, Robert said, "She has helped me a lot."
De has helped with school and family. Robert's mother passed away when he was younger and De has helped him with education. As is sometimes the case with TeamMates mentors and mentees, De has become acquainted with Robert's family.
"If I had trouble with assignments, she would help me," Robert said. "The most important thing about TeamMates is that they help you a lot and teach you how to move on in your future."
De and Robert have attended some of the TeamMates sponsored programs. Robert also credits De with helping him to get into an educational situation that has worked for him and helped him to get better grades. He has also learned from De to "never give up. Get on with what you have to do. Education has a big impact on your life."
Sometimes having transportation to school was an issue for Robert and De helped him utilize the city buses. Also, he said, she has helped him to plan ahead.
Robert said his favorite part of the TeamMates program is that it helps students get through high school and helps them prepare for the future.
De said she likes that she is able to get to know a young person. For De, being a mentor has made her realize the challenges there are for many families. It has been a reality check in so many ways. She says she has been reminded of the value of perseverance.
Robert will graduate mid-summer. He and De are looking forward to celebrating his graduation. Robert also plans to attend Southeast Community College.
De is also a mentor to another student as part of the Lincoln TeamMates High School Graduation Initiative Grant. She heartily encourages other adults to get involved.
June 2012 TeamMates of the Month Celebrate Graduation And Future Plans
Ehan and Bruce have been TeamMates for four years. They started when Ehan was in 9th grade and he is now a recently graduated high school senior on his way to college.
Ehan has enjoyed being a part of the TeamMates program because he values Bruce's friendship and has had the opportunity to meet Bruce's son who has also become a friend.
Ehan believes that having a TeamMate during high school can help students "set up for success for life."
"We started my freshman year, the program really helped me. We talked about life and what I was going to do that day. We talked about college and actual classes and how I could better myself," Ehan said. "It really helped me mature and finish up high school with a really strong role model in my life."
Bruce is a part of the TeamMates program because he feels his life has been blessed. "I like to give back to society if I can and if I see people I can help, I love doing it."
Bruce said that he has very much enjoyed watching Ehan mature and plan for his future. He also praised Ehan for setting a good example for his younger brother.
When Bruce and Ehan meet, they talk about economics, track and field and other sports events and practice card tricks. Cribbage is one of their newest favorites.
Ehan said Bruce has helped him to stay focused in school and has helped him grow as a person. He has been a good guide.
"Once you meet a young man like Ehan and watch him mature and see him start trying to do things right, work hard and improve, be a good role model for his brother."
Bruce has enjoyed that Ehan has transitioned from an immature 9th grader to a mature young man with a good solid plan for the future.
Ehan has been recruited to play football at Wayne State. He and another friend will be going to Wayne State, on the football team together and ride sharing to and from college.
Ehan plans to pursue study and eventually a career in sports management. He is also interested in getting an elementary education certification.
TeamMates congratulates Ehan on his recent high school graduation!
May 2012 TeamMates of the Month Share Time & Traditions
From sharing cultural traditions to college prep, Portia Reed and Itzayana have been working together to accomplish the dream of Itzayana completing high school and pursuing post-secondary education.
They began meeting when Itzayana was in 7th grade. Portia, who has been a part of the TeamMates program since 1999 and was a 2011 recipient of the Decade of Difference Award, enjoys having a friend in the school system and she has really enjoyed becoming friends with Itzayana.
Itzayana was born in Mexico, Portia said. "We have shared so much." Portia has gained understanding of Itzayana's culture and has learned about her family's traditions. One of the highlights of their friendship was being included in Itzayana's Quinceañera.
Itzayana said Quinceañera is a widespread traditional in her culture. The Quinceañera is a coming of age ceremony that celebrates the 15th birthday of a young girl as she transitions into becoming a young woman. Part of Itzayana's celebration included religious observance and a party with many relatives and friends. It was a very important celebration and Portia said she was very pleased to be able to share it with them.
Itzayana also appreciates that Portia has been there for her in other aspects of life and high school. Portia has helped her keep focus on school. She stated, "You grow close to them. Having a TeamMate keeps you focused on achieving your goals and overcoming obstacles."
Itzayana helped her parents when her mother was diagnosed and subsequently treated for cancer. "Itzayana stepped up and helped her dad. I was really proud of her," Portia said.
Itzayana said she used to miss school sometimes, but since Portia became part of her life, she doesn't miss very often.
They have developed a relationship that allows them to freely share ideas and feelings. They look forward to their meetings. There is always a lot to do, whether it is completing homework, playing games or working on crafts. They have also worked together on service projects including one in which they completed fleece blankets that were then donated to Cedars.
Since Itzayana will graduate in May, this has been a very busy year completing scholarship applications and making specific plans for Itzayana to begin her program of study in the medical field.
Itzayana has the goal of becoming an oncologist. She has a well thought-out plan of the steps to help her achieve that goal. She first plans to complete the CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) course. This will allow her to work and learn within the medical profession. She will start this summer in the UNL pre-health program.
The End is Also the Beginning for April 2012 TeamMates of the Month
High school graduation is the culmination of work that took place every single day and while it is an ending, it is also a new beginning.
Such is the situation for the April 2012 TeamMates of the month, Judi Yost and Marissa. Mrs. Yost is a teacher at Dawes Middle school and a TeamMates Facilitator. She has been a part of the TeamMates program for more than 16 years. Marissa is a former Dawes student. They have been TeamMates since December 2008 when Marissa was in 8th grade at Dawes. Marissa is looking forward to graduating from North Star High School in May.
What is their favorite thing about being TeamMates? The most special thing about their relationship is all the laughs they share on the bad days, Marissa said.
"We just make each other laugh," said Mrs. Yost. "We always leave on a better note than when we came, no matter what we do."
They talk about jobs and relationships, school, work and family.
"I think it is important to note that the relationship hasn't just happened overnight. It has taken many years of time. We respect each other. We know each other. We coach each other," Mrs. Yost said. She appreciates having a high school mentee because it helps her stay in touch with what is going on in high schools.
Marissa has enjoyed hearing about Mrs. Yost's daughters who are just a few years older than she. She has learned from some of their experiences and she believes this along with other aspects of the TeamMates relationship has helped her grow, learn and given her the confidence to set and follow her own path. She said she has learned to avoid some of the issues other students have fallen into. Marissa shared a very concrete example of how their TeamMates relationship changed the course of her life.
Being in TeamMates helped her overcome feelings of low self-esteem that were brought on by bullying while she was in middle school. She wanted to be elected to the student council at Dawes, yet she was really afraid of having to speak in front of the student body. She and Mrs. Yost worked out ways for Marissa to feel supported and Mrs. Yost helped her prepare her speech. Not only was Marissa elected to serve on the council, but she was elected council president.
"Now," Marissa said, "it is easy to make presentations. I do it all the time."
Since she's moved into high school, Mrs. Yost has helped her deal with many issues and deal with some disappointments. "She's helped with scholarships. We meet every week."
Marissa plans to start at Southeast Community College this summer in the academic transfer program. She intends to complete one of the medical-field programs. She currently works part time at a retirement community and is getting some experience that she believes will help in her future career.
Mrs. Yost was quick to point out that Marissa is very responsible. She is a very well rounded person and she works very hard in school and in other aspects of her life.
Marissa credits Mrs. Yost for being her best friend. "She's helped me through everything. She supports me in my decisions. We check up on each other, she's with me. She's always a leader for me. She's always pushing me to do my best. We keep each other organized."
Mrs. Yost said, "It has just been a delight to be a part of her life and to watch her grow. Especially when you can look back and see why we started to where we are today. She is a phenomenal young lady. I've tried to be a good role model for her. She's been a good role model for me.
"She'll always be a part of my life. I trust her with my life. We will be friends forever."
They are both looking forward to Marissa's high school graduation, yet both will miss being in their match.
Marissa has stayed invested in the happenings at Dawes and Mrs. Yost's role as a TeamMates School Facilitator. "Any time I have pizza parties, she helps," Mrs. Yost said. "Anything I need she helps out. She's always there for me. She keeps me from getting too wound up. I'm so going to miss it next year."
While the end of the school year brings about the closing of their TeamMates match, it really is only the beginning. Next fall when Marissa turns 19, she will apply to become a TeamMates mentor and she will be back at Dawes making a difference in the life of another student there.
March 2012 TeamMates of the Month Have Long Term Connection
Considering Scott Lloyd's age (26) and his length of commitment (9 years) to his mentee Trever, it would almost seem as if the numbers do not add up. The secret behind this match is a special program available at Northeast High School that led to a long-term TeamMates commitment.
Trever and Scott started meeting when Trevor was in Pershing Elementary and Scott was still in high school. Pershing Pals is a program offered at Lincoln Northeast High School that matches Northeast students with Pershing Elementary students.
Scott said he tried the Pershing Pals because he enjoyed being a part of other high school activities such as honor society and student council. It was also appealing because in addition to sounding fun, many of his friends were doing it. "After that Trever and I just clicked. We had a great time."
When Scott graduated from Northeast High School in 2004 and started college at Nebraska Wesleyan, he and Trever wanted to continue meeting so they moved into the TeamMates program. They have been building their friendship since. "We kept meeting and it has just worked out for the both of us," Scott said. Trever is like the younger brother he never had.
They have built a close relationship. Sometimes they play cards so that they have something to do while they talk, but mostly they just like to spend their time together talking. "It's good to have a guy TeamMate," Trever said. "We play games. I mostly like to talk about what's going on and what we are doing. Homework is a once in a while thing. Just hanging out is pretty cool." Trever is a high school senior this year. Trever expects that right after graduation, he will join the National Guard or another branch of the military, but his life-long dream is "to become a cop." Scott's dad is a Lincoln police officer. This afforded Trever an opportunity to job shadow.
Trever said Scott has helped him with goal setting and trying to understand different issues, "all of that." They discuss actions that Trever might try in order to facilitate change.
When faced with challenges, "Scott has helped me through it every step of the way."
Scott says the real value of their relationship is the consistent nature of the relationship. "We both know that there's no judgment in our relationship. We both can be open and honest with each other."
"When I tell other people that I'm a part of the TeamMamtes organization and when I mention how long I've done it, I try to show the impact it has on someone else. The impact is a mutual thing. Trever has made me grow and become a better person as much as I hope that I've done that for him. The thing I tell my friends… ‘I'm 26 years old. I'm three years out of college… I tell them… you should definitely do this… this is a great opportunity,….it will impact your life… but also realize going in to it… the commitment and the heart you are going to take into it.'"
Part of being able to foster a long-term relationship comes about because both parties realize that no relationship moves smoothly forward. There are always times when things aren't the most comfortable. That is just part of the friendship or it is part of being a family, Scott said. The key is "to keep going, keep meeting. If you can grow something, it's great."
|Harold Dorssom and Demontre|
February 2012 TeamMates of the Month Are Proud of Achievements
TeamMates mentors are some of the program's best recruiters. When they become involved in the program they often share their positive experiences with others at work, within community service organizations or faith-based affiliations.
Harold Dorssom became a mentor after hearing about the TeamMates program from a couple other very active mentors in the Sunrise Kiwanis Club. He became interested in the program and liked the idea of being able to make a difference. It is significant to him that he can be a positive influence in someone else's life.
Harold and Demontre were matched in 2008 when Demontre was in 4th grade. Demontre is currently in 7th grade.
Harold said he is pleased that he has been able to help Demontre set goals and see him achieve them. "It makes me feel good to know that I can help him actually do that.
"Demontre has set goals. He's achieved goals. He's gained confidence to set goals. That has led to him achieve goals. By setting goals and achieving them, he's learned he can guide himself down his own pathways. He can set his own course."
Demontre said he's learned the he likes getting his work done. Harold has helped him practice for upcoming tests.
When they meet, they often play chess. Harold laughingly shared that he has not won more than once in five years!
"Demontre really seems to understand the concept. You've got to watch him. He sets you up and sets traps. He's good at games."
Working with Harold has helped Demontre with self-confidence. He has also enjoyed improved grades, Demontre said.
Demontre is also an artist. Harold proudly added that Demontre is very good. "I can see him working for Hallmark."
Becoming a cartoonist is one of the career paths Demontre is considering. In addition to playing games, they capitalize on Demontre's artistic talents and drawing skills. Demontre likes to create cards for family.
"He's really thoughtful. I'm proud of him for doing that," Harold said.
Domentre countered with a compliment for Harold, "He's a fine person."
Basketball is another of Demontre's interests.
He's a good basketball player and Harold thinks he could probably have a career in that as well. Playing basketball is another way they spend their time together. Additionally, the two of them have gone to the TeamMates basketball games at UNL and Creighton in previous years.
Harold mentioned that Demontre is beginning to take on leadership roles in class. He proudly continued, since they started to meet, Demontre has improved in so many ways.
"I'm really proud of him. He's gained a lot of confidence. He can do whatever he wants to do."
January 2012 TeamMates Have a Special Bond
Kathy Danek recognizes the importance of serving youth. She is the current President of the Lincoln Public Schools Board of Education; she serves as a Lincoln TeamMates Board Member and within a one to one role of mentoring a student.
She started with her first TeamMates student in 2003. She said her first TeamMate taught her how to deal with children who don't have a perfect world to live in.
Kathy strongly believes in the TeamMates program. "It helps students realize there's a future for them after high school. It doesn't have to be a four year college, but there are opportunities." She believes in "never letting kids sell themselves short."
Hope is important. "You have to give them hope and a feeling that the future belongs to them. Their destiny is right there in their hands. Nobody else gets to control their destiny but them."
Also, it is important for the students to know that someone will advocate for them when they need it.
Kathy said being a TeamMate fills a void. After her own children were grown and out of the home, becoming a part of TeamMates gave her an opportunity to get back into the schools. She enjoys being a part of her TeamMates' academics and activities, she likes to cheer them on and be proud of them. "I love to be around teenagers."
Kathy currently mentors Staci and theirs is a unique TeamMates relationship. Kathy is Stacia's aunt in addition to being her TeamMates mentor. They have been meeting since 2005.
When Stacia was in 3rd grade she wanted some academic assistance and Kathy wanted to help. She believed that working within the TeamMates program would be a great option because of the security in place and the opportunities to work within Stacia's class schedule.
Stacia, who is currently in 9th grade, said the part of TeamMates she most appreciates is having individualized time with her aunt. Kathy agrees it is nice that they have special time together.
Stacia said she also likes being able to tell her aunt about what is going on in her life.
"We have a level of trust, don't we?" Kathy responded.
Kathy believes being a TeamMate gives Stacia a focus in school and helps her understand the problems associated with growing up. One of the life-lessons they recently discussed is the process of making good decisions.
Stacia has learned that one way to view a decision is to question who might be affected. "If it hurts you or anybody else, it's a bad decision," Stacia said.
"Everybody makes mistakes. It's what we learn from them and not repeating them," Kathy said.
When they meet for their TeamMates time they spend some of the time playing computer games or cards in addition to talking with each other.
"She's my aunt, but I can tell her almost anything. She helps me when I need help. She gives me advice. She helps with homework."
Stacia hasn't decided on a career path yet, but she is considering becoming a lawyer or perhaps getting into forensic science. She has long had an interest in science and finds her biology class to be a favorite.
Kathy encourages others to be a part of the TeamMates program. "I think more people should reach out and become TeamMates. The impact on their own lives is incredible. Meeting one day a week with a young person adds value not just to the student's life, but to the adult's life. You create a friend forever.
"Stacia and I will always have a special bond."
December 2010 TeamMates of the Month: Focus on the Future
For David, a senior at Northeast high school, the most important element of his TeamMates experience is that he has someone to talk to.
David and Mike have established the kind of relationship in which David feels he can talk to Mike about anything. Mike's help with homework has also been a key.
In previous years they've worked on history, reading, math and Spanish. This year they've mostly spent time on literature and history.
"I've come a long way," David said. Mike helped him realize how important it is to focus on homework. "He helped me become more outgoing and to be more confident."
With pride in his voice, Mike added, "He has mostly As and Bs across the board."
The two have sports in common as well.
David appreciates that Mike comes to his swimming, diving and track meets -- and the connection between academics and sports.
"Sports keep you on track. It is a privilege to play, so you have to keep your grades up. Academics come before sports."
They are both looking forward to attending the TeamMates Recognition Event in January. TeamMates mentors who have served three years or more are eligible for Mentor Hall of Fame Award and school facilitators, community partners and scholarship winners receive special recognition. Mike and David have attended together in previous years and David said he's enjoyed hearing the speakers.
College is definitely the next step. David wants to combine his special interests and hopes to pursue a career that includes public speaking, perhaps counseling and working with youth, possibly as a youth pastor.
They are also planning for the A.C.T. David told Mike that he'd just purchased a test prep book. As David outlined his plans to prepare for the test, Mike smiled and nodded. They will work on it together.