June 19, 2020

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Statistics for the 2019-2020 School Year

  • 45 active matches (26 Girls, 19 Boys) at the end of the school year.
  • We started the year with 20 matches and we had 30 new matches made this school year.
  • We had 5 matches end during the school year.  (Four students moved out of the district; one student wanted to change mentors).
  • At the Middle School this year we had a total of 700 mentoring hours (this includes mentoring after the shut-down in March).
  • 6 students remained on the wait list.  3 will be matched at the beginning of the next school year and 3 names will be passed on to Lisa Reynolds at Lynden high school.
  • 15 additional MS students were interested in the program and will be asked again next year if they would like to be in the program.  5 students will be here at the middle school and 10 will be moving to the high school.
  • Sixteen 8th graders (and their mentors) will be passed on to the high school next year.
  • After school Art Club has been a fantastic success for the past few years and is gaining traction.  There was a wait list to get in.  Five to six BTO mentors have been an essential part of the club assisting students and staff.  
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid: Unfortunately, this class was inhibited due to low numbers, weather and the closing of schools with the COVID-19.

Ongoing Program Development:

  • Continued NQMS process with Mentor Washington: Our program currently has a status of Dedicated Partner, which allows our program to be recognized on a state/national level with Mentor Washington.
    • We are still making progress on our Policies and Procedure Manuel, 
    • This year one of our goals has been to be more involved with parents and this has happened some.  I sent out letters at the beginning of the year and have tried to have more contact with parents by phone.  Next year, we are looking to create additional resources to keep parents informed about the program.
    • Next year the middle school will be looking into a pre-mentoring group for 6th graders.
  • Offered 3 Mentor Equipping Sessions during the year:  They were well attended, and we got a lot of positive feedback from attending mentors.  (One session was canceled due to snow).
  • Lisa and I were not able to attend the Mentoring Conference in May this year due to COVID-19.

STORIES TO SHARE (Not included in any other report)

One Dedicated Mentor: One of our students was pulled out of school so she could enter Lynden Academy.  She and her mentor had been meeting together for the past 2 years.  The mentor went above and beyond her responsibilities and continued reaching out to the girl and her mom as she was going through a new transition.  She had decided that she will dedicate her time for the girl as long as she needs the help.  On top of that, the mentor has been willing to start fresh with another girl at the middle school.  The dedication of mentors is inspiring.

Compassion Always: One mentor found out his student needed a specific item for his band class but could not afford to drive to the store and purchase it.  After conferring with me, the mentor wrote down the exact item the student required.  He then drove to the music shop in Bellingham, bought the item and presented it to his very surprised student the next time they met.

Care for the Grieving: Last week a student of ours lost a significant family member.  The mentor heard about the loss from the parent of the student via text.  In response, the mentor wanted to leave a card on the student’s front porch to show compassion, but not be a bother.  Instead, the student was coming home from walking the dog and the two met face to face.  They ended up having a 2-hour conversation in the front yard.  Student’s who have mentors have one additional person in their lives when they face difficult things.

Students Crave Connection: After school was shut down, we encouraged mentors to write to their students.  One mentor in particular wrote a few letters to her student.  Then they decided to ZOOM together a few times.  After a seeing each other twice online the mentee decided she would rather not connect through Zoom any longer.  However, what the student told me next was touching.  She asked if her mentor could continue sending her letters in the mail, because “she really enjoyed getting them.”

 

No School Necessary: Since the closing of schools, mentors and students have not been able to meet in person for the most part.  However, with permission, one pair was able to share a treat in a parking lot.  The two had a great last meeting before the summer!

CHALLENGES AND SETBACKS

Challenges for the Year:

  • Not enough mentors for the need: It seems like we were matching mentors as fast as we were training them.  We may need some mentors to take on two students next year to keep up with the growth.
  • With tremendous growth this year and last our program is beginning to reach capacity (50-60 matches per coordinator in each school), which can be challenging in communication and supervision.  However, we may have some pairs drop off next year which will decrease our numbers.  On the bright side, the HS and MS were a few people shy of 100 matches this year.  What a great accomplishment for the Lynden School District.
  • It has been a challenge to continually find male mentors this year.  It was better this year, but there were still some male students that stayed on our wait list for quite some time.  Overall, the need for new mentors is always present.  There is always a high demand for mentors at the middle school level.

 

COVID-19 and the Affects it Had on the Year

We all know this was an unprecedented year due to COVID-19.  March 13th of this year, the Lynden School District shut down and the mentoring program (along with everything else) was immediately halted.  We (as coordinators) were not left with enough time to connect with students, which ultimately caused communication difficulties down the road.  For the middle school, it took me about a month to finally begin connecting with students through a variety of methods and I never fully connected with all students.  Mentors during this time stepped up and attempted to communicate with their mentees.  Some wrote letters, while others sent gifts.  Others attempted to communicate through email and eventually we began connecting mentors and students through Zoom once we got permission from the district administration.  Here are some fascinating mentoring statistics following the closure of schools:

 

  • Since we started allowing Zoom meetings as an option for mentoring pairs, we have had at least 75 Zoom meetings take place between pairs (17 different pairs represented).
  • We had 8 pairs meet every single week on Zoom since it was allowed.
  • We had 3 in-person meetings between pairs (all were granted permission by the parents).
  • I was in contact with 37 out of 45 students since the middle school closed.  I was surprised how many students I was able to connect with at least one time.

 

SURVEY SUMMARIES

Normally, we would have end-of-the-year interviews of both students and mentors.  However, this year was an exception due to COVID-19.  Instead, we conducted a survey of students and mentors and here are some of the results of that survey.

Middle School Mentor Responses 

(26 out of 45 total middle school mentors completed the survey)

What things have you enjoyed about mentoring this year?

  • Playing games my mentee enjoyed
  • Attending sporting events
  • Meeting my student’s parents and pets
  • I liked just sitting and listening to my mentee talk
  • Building a relationship, having a personal connection
  • Sharing the same Woods Coffee drink each week
  • Listening to what life is like at the middle school
  • Sharing love and compassion for my student
  • My mentee has shared more about struggles in her home and at school
  • Teaching my student to be a grandmaster in chess
  • Helping my student practice English/improve their communication skills
  • Watching my student grow up into their teenage years
  • Coordinating with Brian each week
  • I enjoyed the BTO magic event at NCCTK 
  • Being the most reliable adult in my mentee’s life/being that caring adult
  • Doing physical things with my mentee (sports)
  • Being a consistent presence in my mentee’s life
  • I have enjoyed watching my mentee gain self-confidence
  • I love seeing life through the eyes of my mentee
  • Taking walks around the school together
  • Enjoyed seeing a friendship grow
  • Hanging out and laughing
  • Playing games I have not played in a long time
  • Conversations changed from one-sided to two-sided after a few sessions together
  • I genuinely enjoyed my mentee this year

 

Would you like to continue meeting with your student during the next school year? 

(These answers are from ALL MENTORS surveyed)

  • “YES” – (50 mentors or 79%)
  • “I am not sure right now, talk to me in the fall” – (11 mentors or 11%)
  • “No, I would like to be matched with another student” – (1 mentor or 2%)
  • “No, I would like to step down from mentoring this next year” – (5 mentors or 8%)

 

In your words, how has COVID-19 affected your life?

  • I miss seeing my student in person each week
  • My job and volunteer work ended or changed/working remotely
  • My spouse lost their job which will affect my ability to mentor in the fall
  • It has been a little difficult
  • My college kids were back in the house/more contact with my adult kids
  • My students had to start online school, which was difficult/homeschooling for the first time
  • I am afraid my students have regressed in their learning and their social skills are weakened
  • We could not go to church
  • My mentee moved right before the stay-at-home order, which was difficult
  • I have seen my grandchildren more and we have enjoyed many different activities.
  • I have been able to do some crafts, gardening, projects and more
  • A lot.  Our business was closed temporarily
  • The balance of work and overseeing our kids’ schoolwork has been difficult
  • I am missing social interaction
  • Life has become easier and relaxed/a vacation at home
  • I learned how to use Zoom
  • It put a damper on everyday life
  • We miss the intimacy of family and friends
  • Lots of added caution around other people
  • It has really cut me off from everyone (I have health conditions) and I am really lonely
  • I’ve been frustrated with the lack of face-to-face.  
  • I miss hugging people
  • It was hard to connect due to family issues
  • An underlying stress and anxiety for society as a whole
  • Fear over compromised people in our home
  • I only got to meet my mentee one time, so we barely got to know each other
  • A balance of work, kids and taking care of my parents is a lot
  • I am in the “high-risk” department, so I have to be really careful to limit my time with others
  • Limiting out-of-the house trips and being around people is my #1 priority, because of health
  • This crazy time helped my family and I grow closer together

 

Since the shutdown of schools for COVID-19, how have you connected with your student?

(These answers are from ALL MENTORS surveyed)

  • 66% sent a letter or card in the mail
  • 14% received a card or letter back from their student
  • 21% emailed with their student
  • 32% used ZOOM with their student
  • 21% sent a gift through the mail
  • 21% delivered something in person to their mentee
  • 5% met in person
  • 19% did not have the opportunity to get connected at all

If in-school mentoring is not possible the first part of the next school year, would you be interested in connecting with your mentee in some way outside of school?

  • 68% said “YES”
  • 8% said “No, I would like to take a break”
  • 24% said “Possibly depending on the circumstances”

 

Ways mentors are willing to connect if in-person mentoring is not possible next year

  • 62% – Email
  • 57% – Text
  • 49% – By Phone
  • 52% – Through ZOOM
  • 71% – In person (off campus)
  • 41% – Writing letters or cards through the mail
  • 10% – Prefer no contact until schools allow mentoring in person

 

Struggles Mentors are Facing

  • Not sure if they can continue mentoring with current circumstances in their life
  • Wanting to connect with their student over the summer
  • Feeling the heavy burden for what their student is going through
  • Not connecting with their mentee at a level they are comfortable with
  • Mentees are moving and they desire to be paired with another student
  • Mentees are not always responding to the mail and gifts mentors have sent
  • Zoom is a struggle.  Mentors are longing for the face-to-face time
  • Mentors/students are moving away, not sure how to have closure
  • Needing childcare in the fall if schools are not in session

 

Topics for Future Mentor Trainings

 

  • Anxiety/Depression in adolescents
  • Suicide awareness/signs of possible mental illness
  • How to address the students’ relationships with their parents/how to support the student, but respect the parent.
  • Racial sensitivity training, battling hostile/negative stereotypes
  • Learning to adjust my approach as I get further into the mentoring relationship

 

Notable Quotes from Mentors

  • “It was great to see my mentee slowly trust and open up to me as the year progressed.”
  • “I was unable to see my student for a few months, but then we got to see each other via Zoom, which brought me some hope and joy.”
  • “It feels nice that my mentee is trusting me more.  She is confiding in me after months of meeting together.”
  • “It has taken my student a long time to feel comfortable with me.  In these last two weeks over Zoom, my mentee has opened-up and shared some personal things.  How great!”
  • “After three years of being paired together, my mentee feels like a niece.  We have laughed and cried together, and we have really connected.”
  • “I love seeing life through the eyes of my mentee.”
  • “I have been very happy to inspire, motivate and support my mentee.  We have developed a friendship.”
  • “I really enjoyed spending time with my mentee this year.  Our time together transformed from a one-sided conversation to two-sided conversation in a matter of months.”

 

Middle School Mentee Responses 

(31 out of 45 total middle school students completed the survey)

What things have you enjoyed about your mentor this year?

  • The humor and laughs
  • Playing sports outside
  • Learning to play chess and other new games
  • I connected well with my mentor
  • We shared book ideas and read the same book
  • My mentor was always on time this year
  • My mentor was always very positive and had a good heart
  • I love playing games every week/ doing Mad Libs
  • We know each other really well now, because this is our 2nd year together
  • My mentor helped me with schoolwork and writing projects
  • My mentor was so understanding
  • I enjoyed talking to my mentor
  • My mentor’s kindness
  • I enjoyed every minute with my mentor
  • My mentor brought in RC cars and scooters and we had fun playing
  • Having fun memories together
  • We have a great connection and share everything together
  • My mentor was patient with me when I was challenging, sassy or complained about things
  • My mentor has helped me talk through difficult things.
  • My mentor calms me down when I’m feeling frustrated
  • She is a fantastic listener
  • Sharing a treat
  • Getting a break from the busy week
  • I love the conversations we have

 

Would you like to continue meeting with your mentor during the next school year? 

(These answers are from ALL STUDENTS surveyed)

  • “YES” – (48 students or 86%)
  • “I am not sure right now, talk to me in the fall” – (4 students or 7%)
  • “No, I would like to be matched with another mentor” – (0 Students)
  • “No, I would like to leave the program” – (4 students or 7%)

In your words, how has COVID-19 affected your life?

  • I ‘ve been very bored
  • It has been really hard for me to focus on school and other things
  • It is hard to learn from home, teachers are not as available
  • I am not living with my parents during the pandemic, because we have a large family
  • I have been a lot more stressed
  • I cannot hang out with friends or have social interaction
  • I miss my teachers, classes and school
  • I am tired of being stuck in my house all the time
  • I miss shopping and going to the mall
  • I am not able to see my family right now
  • I could not see my mentor, which makes me sad
  • COVID took a very hard turn in my life surrounding family
  • School is frustrating because I can’t get any help
  • I cannot see my grandparents right now, which is hard
  • I worry about my parents leaving the home
  • My mentor helps me relax and take a deep breath
  • I don’t have any desire to do homework or things like going outside
  • I could not play the sports I love
  • I miss going to restaurants
  • I have been getting more exercise
  • Haven’t been able to go outside very often
  • My mentor is not able to mentor with me next year
  • My dad is a farmer, so he has been working despite the risks
  • The unknown is really bothering me
  • Unable to go on vacation
  • Everything is on hold, no plans
  • Working late hours, sleeping in late, lack of motivation

 

Since the shutdown of schools for COVID-19, how have you connected with your mentor?

(These answers are from ALL STUDENTS surveyed)

  • 45% – My mentor wrote me a letter
  • 23% – I wrote a letter to my mentor
  • 20% – We have emailed
  • 43% – We have used ZOOM or another video chat
  • 18% – My mentor sent me a gift in the mail
  • 18% – My mentor delivered something to my house
  • 7% – We met in person
  • 16% – We did NOT connect at all

 

If in-school mentoring is not possible the first part of the next school year, would you be interested in connecting with your mentor in some way outside of school?

  • 71% said “YES”
  • 2% said “No”
  • 27% said “Maybe”

 

Ways students are willing to connect if in-person mentoring is not possible next year

  • 52% – Email
  • 55% – Text
  • 38% – By Phone
  • 46% – Through ZOOM
  • 70% – In person (off campus)
  • 38% – Writing letters or cards through the mail
  • 11% – Prefer no contact until schools allow mentoring in person

 

Struggles Mentees are Facing

  • Stress and Anxiety over COVID and schooling
  • Students are missing their friends, teachers, and relatives
  • In general, it seems students are facing fatigue by staying indoors
  • Moving districts or schools

 

Notable Quotes from Mentees

  • “My mentor is someone safe I can talk to.”
  • “I enjoyed every moment with my mentor, he was funny and quite cool.”
  • “I enjoyed every minute with my mentor!”
  • “I really missed seeing my mentor during the pandemic”
  • “Each time we spend together, we get to know each other more and more.”
  • “My mentor calms me down when I’m feeling frustrated.  He helps me get through the day.”
  • “I look forward to my weekly break with my mentor.  It is nice to have someone to talk to.”
  • “My mentor is really good company.  She is a trusted friend.”