Pay it Forward: National Mentoring Month
by Niña Abonal, EXPLORE Program Coordinator
January not only kickstarts the New Year, but also the beginning of the National Mentoring Month campaign. Since 2002, former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama have endorsed the movement to increase public awareness about the importance of mentoring, advocating for mentoring, and encouraging new mentors to volunteer. In President Obama’s recent Presidential Proclamation, he recognized that “nobody succeeds on their own: each young person’s strength and resilience is fostered by those who have taught them they can do anything they put their mind to.”
Mentors play a transformative role in young people’s lives. In reflecting on my own experiences, I cannot help but be grateful for those exceptional individuals who invested their wisdom, support and time in me. From my 5th grade teacher who encouraged my love for learning, my 7th grade track coach who tirelessly trained and pushed me pass the finish line, my AP English teacher who strengthened my writing skills, and my former boss in college who encouraged my passion towards the field of education. They made the difference I needed to be a better person today.
For gifted learners, mentors can help guide them through difficult formative years and help remove the barriers to advancement that schools can often create. At IEA, we are fortunate enough to have a remarkable group of staff members, instructors, fellows and counselors, and mentors who invigorate, support, and work with our community of curious, bright learners. It is because of each of you that IEA is able to fulfill our mission to ensure that each gifted child’s specific needs are met so that they can reach their full intellectual and personal potential. So thank you to staff members and…
- Academy instructors who share their passions and expertise and create nurturing learning spaces where our students can be themselves and delve into their curiosities.
- Yunasa Fellows and counselors who encourage growth and support our campers intellectually, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
- EXPLORE mentors who provide opportunities for our high schoolers to explore their interests and apply their knowledge in intellectually limitless and nurturing environments.
In the last 20 years, great strides have been made in the mentoring field; State and local leaders and leading non-profits have developed mentoring programs and activities to push the campaign forward in communities across the country. The reality is, however, that a gap still exists—“one in three young people do not have the supportive relationships they need to grow and develop into thriving, productive and engaged adults.” In many of our communities today, more young people are faced with varying levels of adversities and traumatic life experiences; it often takes just one exceptional individual who can help uplift them, unlock their potential, and give them a better chance at success.
If a mentor has positively impacted your life, pay it forward this month by contacting your mentor and expressing your gratitude, becoming a mentor in your own community, or making a contribution to a local mentoring program.
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