Mentoring From the Heart

     Brian on the last day of school waiting for the bus 

This year started out like any other year.  After a few days of school, my principal asked me to help with the bus duty afterschool as often as I can. This little moment, when I said “yes” helped to change the life of a child and mine.

Next to my classroom is classroom for children who need to have a little more help than most. As most days I would say “hello” to all of the students as they passed my door. I would see all of these children ready to learn and I have to say that it always makes me smile to see children eager to start their day with their teacher. Every morning I would say hello to Brian. He would kind of look at me and keep on walking on his way to the room next to mine.

Let me tell you about Brian. Brian is a kindergartener in my school who has some learning disabilities. Brian doesn’t talk much. He has steely-blue eyes and fire-red hair, and a smirky little smile that you just can’t miss. He walks down the hallway seemly in his own little world.

Everyday at the bus stop I helped an other teacher who would bring most of the students from the room next to mine out to the bus. Brian would be at my bus stop everyday. I would look down at him, and he up at me and I would ask if he had a great day at school. He would look at me and not say anything back.

As the year went on I decided that I would have little conversations with him as often as I saw him. Most of the time I got the same response…which was no response in words, just a smile. 

Just after Christmas, I was standing at the bus stop keeping the students safe, and all of a sudden I had a gloved hand slip into mine. I looked down and It was Brian. From that day, he would come up to me and hold my hand. He wouldn’t say anything to me, but smile. I knew that this was a big change. The teacher that I would do bus duty with was really surpised and joyed with this little gesture from Brian.

By March our conversations began to change. He began to say a few words back to me. Normally just a yes or no. Nothing too deep. I felt like I was making some progress with this child who I thought was in need of a mentor.

By May he would come up to me and hold my hands and jump up. He would motion for me to lift him as he jumped. We would do this a few times a day at the bus stop. To be honest it wore me out! He would talk to me in the building as I walked through the building. He really began to change.

Whan I looked back on this year, I come to realize that Brian wasn’t the only one who changed. I had too. I noticed that I looked forward to helping this little child communicate with the world. I think he looked forward to getting my attention. He opened my eyes to fact that i just shouldn’t focus on the students that I have in my classroom. Rather, I should look at the building as a whole and try to give a little bit of attention to other students who could use a postive male influence.

I snapped the picture above of Brian on the last day of school. I hope that he has a great summer. I hope that he continues to come out of his shell and continues to communicate. I am looking forward to hearing from him what he has done. I want to thank Brian for all he has done for me. He may never know what he has really done, and for that matter, I may never know the impact I have made on him. But this I know, we will not be the same.

So what is the point of this story? The point I want to share is that if you have some students in your building that you think could benefit by having you in their life then I believe that you should mentor that student. Make an impact. Start some conversations. Say hello to them when they are eating lunch or walking down the hallway. Be creative. You may never know the full positive impact that you on any student that passes into your doorway or through the halls of your school. You can change the life of a child. Isn’t that why we are in education anyway?


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