by Abbie Powell
Brightly colored displays of crayons, notebooks, and pencils greet us as we walk into the grocery store. It’s undeniable; summer is coming to an end, and another school year lies just around the corner. Though there is a certain sadness in saying goodbye to the sunshine-filled, carefree days of summer, hopeful anticipation fills the air. With a new school year comes new opportunities.
Teachers wonder about the new students they will guide and the impact they might have. Children wonder about the new friends they could meet, the grades they might earn, and the sports team they could make.
What about you? Have you thought of what this school year could mean for your life?
Meller Langford, a member of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, says as she was preparing to retire, she really wanted to find a way to be “engaged in something in the community.” She attended an orientation for her church’s partnership with Jack Fields Elementary and decided to become a mentor for a young student.
The school counselor assigned Meller to a second-grade boy. In the beginning, she just tried to get to know him and help him feel comfortable by asking simple questions. As he warmed up to her, she then reached out to his teachers to discover specific areas where they could work together to help him succeed. After spending time with the young boy and discussing it with his teachers, Meller realized that they should focus on reading and math. Since he struggled with the books and worksheets, she tried a different approach. By combining what he already did in school with educational activities on the computer, she found that he became more interested.
Over the next three years, Meller’s presence in her mentee’s life made him want to succeed. “He was very interested in always trying to do his best when it came to math and reading when I was around,” she explains. The student’s relationship with a caring, encouraging adult transformed drudgery into an achievable goal.
Meller says by the end of three years of mentoring him, she “felt like a family member.”
After her mentee moved on to middle school, she had the opportunity to mentor his younger brother. Meller remembers how different their personalities were. The younger brother was more interested in reading, math, and science, so their time was often spent discussing his future and the steps he could take towards achieving his goals. Since Meller shared with him that she went to college, he asked her what it was like. “He really wanted to know what did it take to be successful so he could go to college,” she remarks.
The two boys often had very different needs, but one they had in common: the need for a sensitive, uplifting adult to speak into their lives. Whether it’s helping a child stay on top of their studies or encouraging an ambitious student to pursue their dreams of going to college, you have the power to help a young person succeed.
This school year, will you consider cheering on a local student to be their best? One hour of your week could change the years ahead in a student’s life. Visit https://lovinghouston.net/workshops to register for one of our free workshops, or email us directly at email@example.com.
Abbie is a senior in high school who enjoys following Jesus, going on adventures with her family and good friends, and working with kids. She believes church-school partnerships are a perfect opportunity to step into the lives of students and teachers the way Jesus steps into ours – humbly, sacrificially, and with commitment. Thank you for volunteering with us, Abbie – you are a talented writer and such a blessing!