Mentors came together this past month to celebrate both the spirit of mentoring and to share stories and insights with each other. Both DREAM and Community Friends, two student organizations on campus that work with local children of Addison County, held a training / retreat event in November with the aim of building upon the skills of new and older mentors. Discussions between newer and older mentors, perspectives from community partners, and guidelines for effective mentoring were among some of the integral parts of each event.
DREAM mentors participate in reflection activity during retreat.
DREAM, a group-based mentoring program, works with children of both the Pine Meadows and John Graham communities of Middlebury. Ranging in ages from 5 to 14, the children meet with college mentors on Friday afternoons to partake in a number of activities, ranging from themes such as “Science Day” to fun events like horseback riding. Working with Sarah Caliendo, Program Director of DREAM, mentors got together for their fall retreat. They were led through a variety of activities that centered around best practices for mentoring youth, as well as reflective activities on what it means to be an effective, responsive ally for them.
Community Friends mentors, new and experienced alike, share stories and insight on what it takes to be an effective mentor.
Community Friends, a one-on-one mentoring program, pairs college students with children of Addison County. Meeting individually on a weekly basis, pairs enjoy access to campus facilities or explore the local communities during their time together. During their fall training, both new mentors and older mentors were led through a discussion of challenges and strategies on mentoring children by Bridport Central School principal Kathleen Kilbourne and Mary Hogan Elementary School counselor Jeff Lester. Experienced mentors shared tips and ideas with new mentors, and many asked questions about potential challenges and setbacks. Mentors were provided guidelines on communication styles as well as other training tips.
Both events only helped to reinforce the notion of the importance of training and reflection when working with communities and particular populations, youth in this case. To the benefit of all, trained mentors are better equipped to address challenges as they arise and understand that they are not alone. Keep up the good work, DREAM and Community Friends!