Mentoring Paves the Way for Positive Growth

A few years ago, Frank was a 5th grade student who loved building things, riding his bike, and traveling with family. However, he was struggling in school – missing assignments and getting calls home more than he should. His guidance counselor at Fall Creek Intermediate recommended his family consider signing Frank up for a mentor through Youth Mentoring Initiative (YMI). Frank and his family thought a mentor – another caring adult invested in Frank’s life that he could talk to – would be a great idea and signed him up quickly.

Tim first heard about YMI while attending a Mudsock Youth Athletics event for one of his kids, and saw a neighbor working the YMI table. He had a long-time appreciation for mentoring, and was ready to give back. Tim grew up the youngest of six kids, and always had an older sibling to look up to. He has been in professional mentoring relationships for most of his career and specifically credits a former manager early on in his career, Chad, for being especially influential. “He was a sounding board, someone who pushed me to focus on both professional and personal development,” Tim commented.

Frank was matched with a mentor, and Tim was matched with a mentee. However, a short time later, both the mentor and the mentee moved away, paving the way for Tim and Frank to be matched.

Now at Fall Creek Junior High, Tim and Frank have been matched together for over a year, and it’s clear they’re an excellent fit for one another. They meet once a week during Frank’s school day to catch up, play a game, and check in on goals. When Frank describes mentoring to his friends, he says it’s meeting with an adult that has similar interests to talk about life. When asked what they like to do together, Frank got excited as he shared that he enjoyed playing cards and board games with Tim. Connect 4 is especially competitive between the two.

While the games are fun, Tim sees them as an avenue to build trust and an opportunity to talk. Frank is focused on personal improvement this school year, and Tim is helping him work towards intentional SMART goals. Specifically, Frank is chipping away at his missing assignments, and is proud to not be getting as many calls home this year.
Frank is thriving under additional accountability and is motivated to make Tim proud. And proud he is. When asked what his favorite quality about Frank was, Tim said, “I admire his commitment to the YMI program. He’s focused on his goals, open-minded, and competitive.” About Tim, Frank said, “I like how he talks about lots of things – his family, places he’s lived, his jobs. It’s interesting.”

Both are excited to continue their match in the years to come. Tim is a firm believer that a good mentoring relationship goes both ways. He has just as much to learn from Frank, and both say that the other helps hold them accountable.

“I’d recommend this experience to everybody.”