Mentoring Is…


Q. What is a mentor?

A. The dictionary’s definition is a wise and trusted guide and friend. A mentor is a supportive, caring adult who serves as a role model and spends quality time with a young person to make a positive change in his or her life (not a tutor or a teacher).

Q. How are mentees chosen?

A. Mentoring Programs generally serve students in grades K-12 who can benefit from a positive adult role model. Requests for mentors may come from teachers, parents, administrators or others capable of identifying children who may lack confidence or self-esteem, or have other indicators that could interfere with school success. Many matches begin in elementary school, and mentees may continue to receive mentoring services through high school.

Q. What are the program’s goals?

A. The ultimate goal is to increase student success and high school graduation rates by improving the student’s self-esteem, attitude towards school, attendance and academic performance.

Q. How are the mentor and child matched?

A. Interest Inventories are completed by both the mentor and mentee to assist in the matching process. Pairs are made based on shared interests, student need and mentor availability.

Q. How much time does mentoring require?

A. Time requirements vary based on the program you volunteer for: school-based mentoring programs generally require that mentors meet with their mentees at school for an hour each week, at a time and place agreed upon by the teacher and the mentor. Community-based mentor programs generally require a larger time commitment but allow the flexibility to meet with your mentee (student) in the community. You can go on excursions and spend time with him/her on the weekend or evenings, depending on your schedule.

Q. Are the mentors given any training?

A. All mentors must attend an initial orientation/training session that generally lasts for 2-hours. Some mentoring programs require additional training before meeting your mentee. Once the program is underway, periodic “support groups” and sometimes teacher meetings are held for mentors to share ideas, plan special events, and address specific issues. Additionally, workshops on topics of interest to mentors are offered on a regular basis.

Q. Will I be asked to continue with the student after this school year?

A. Your commitment is for just one year but we hope that you will be able to continue with your mentee. Some mentors actually continue through high school graduation!

Q. Will the student’s parents be involved at all?

A. All parents/guardians are required to give written permission for their child to participate in the program. Depending on the requirements of the mentoring program you become involved with, parents may also attend program kick-off events and other special events.

Q. Does an hour a week really help a student?

A. YES! A study shows that most kids get about fourteen minutes of interaction from the adults they live with on a daily basis. Only about a minute and a half of that time is positive interaction, with the rest being instructions or reprimands. Needless to say, an hour of undivided attention per week makes a huge difference in the life of a child.

Q. What if we meet and don’t feel the match is a comfortable fit?

A. Our experienced program coordinators will try to work with you and your mentee to identify any barriers or stumbling blocks you may encounter. In our many years of experience only a handful of pairs didn’t “click.” Of course, if we are unable to help you feel more comfortable, we will make every effort to match you with a new mentee.

Q. Is there a fee associated with being a mentor?

A. No. Occasionally mentor programs may ask for your help in covering any costs associated with your background check but there are no fees associated with being a mentor. And the rewards you will receive are priceless!

Q. Can I mentor more than one hour or one student a week?

A. Absolutely! Although in school-based programs each child can only be mentored for one hour per week, it is possible to mentor another child at a different time or even volunteer at a different school or through a different agency. We recommend starting with one child and seeing how it goes, before beginning a relationship with a second student.