A mentor is often a long-term relationship focused on supporting the growth and development of the mentee. There are formalized mentorship programs where students get matched with an individual. Then there’s mentoring that occurs naturally by caring adults who develop a trusted relationship with a teen, offering a listening ear and valuable guidance to students who need extra motivation and direction.

 

The latter was what helped Melissa L. turn her focus back to her education. She stopped going to high school at the end of 9th grade and didn’t attend class for three months. She didn’t like school, was getting into trouble, and decided to move in with her boyfriend and get a job. Lost and not sure what she was going to do, she heard about Learn4Life and decided to give it a try.

“For the first time I really liked school. Everyone was so nice, and I realized I could stay in school and keep working,” she said. “They provided me with a tutor to help me with geometry, business math and English or I never would have made it.”

 

Her tutor, Danielle Baker, soon became much more than that. Melissa was having problems at home that were keeping her from concentrating on her schoolwork. Her beloved grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and her mother had to undergo surgery.

 

“She helped me deal with all those issues and made sure that I kept coming to school. She even had to brush up on her geometry so she could help me with that subject,” explained Melissa.

 

Melissa’s grandmother told her that she wanted to see her graduate. Danielle reminded her of that motivation and kept her on track to make school a priority. Melissa graduates this month and looks forward to what comes next with her education. “I want to thank everyone at Learn4Life – especially Mrs. Baker…my tutor, my mentor, my best friend!”

 

Danielle went into education to help people reach their goals and she excels in building relationships with her students so they are comfortable talking with her about life outside of school. “I listen to what’s going on that is distracting them from schoolwork,” she said. “Too often adults want to problem solve, and the kids feel like there is another adult telling them what to do. I try to just be there, listen and show that I care. Then with time, they feel safe and I can give them a bit of a push to see they can do it for themselves.

 

Mentoring comes naturally and she’s in that role for several students. It starts with conversation – getting teens comfortable around her, one on one. She asks about their lives, not just their homework assignments. “I let them know that they’re not alone. I’m here to do anything for them,” she said. “I take the attitude that little issues are not a big deal and we’ll figure it out together.”

Written By:
Ann Abajian
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