As the years passed, I moved on from those distant heroes and realized that the true heroes were closer than I thought. The true heroes were my mentors.
A mentor is an individual who can see strengths within us that we often times do not see. Mentors help provide a path of guidance and hope. Mentors don’t need to be wildly successful or wealthy. They don’t have to be gifted athletes or musicians. They are often those individuals in our schools and community. I know this because I see it every day.
I can give countless examples of the power of mentors. Last March, Main Street School hosted nationally renowned speaker Keith Hawkins. He spoke to the power of mentorship and how lives are transformed by caring individuals who light the path for those in need. The student response was impressive. Several students spoke of the impact mentors had on their lives. This became the powerful message that we all can benefit from the work of mentors.
Norwalk City Schools has two of the most impressive groups when it comes to mentoring – Teen Leadership Corps (TLC) and Lunch Bunch. Main Street School is very fortunate to benefit from both groups.
TLC has been a blessing to our students. Nick Lee and his students bring strong leadership and compassion to our students here at Main Street School. Affectionately known as the “Bigs and Littles,” this connection is certainly a positive influence for both the mentors and mentees.
Main Street School’s Lunch Bunch is “branch” of a much larger program started at Norwalk High School several years ago. Cari Beers launched the Lunch Bunch to teach understanding, inclusion, and acceptance. The program has become a cornerstone of mentorship in our district. Maria Goodsite and the Main Street Lunch Bunch are considered peer mentoring. Mentors and mentees work together to promote understanding and acceptance. It is my hope that our students see the importance of being that source of encouragement that helps light the way for others.
I chose to write about mentoring because I truly believe in its power. One can easily become disheartened with the negativity of the day. Our students paint a different portrait. It doesn’t take age, wealth or popularity to be a positive mentor. It takes an individual who is committed to sharing and caring about those around them.
Encourage our children to be mentors to those in need. We all need mentors.
Local columnist Dan Bauman is the Main Street School principal.