Are you a mentor? What does it mean to be a mentor? I would suggest that mentors come in all shapes and sizes; they can be a parent, a teacher, a coach or a volunteer who pours his/her time and expertise into helping young men and women develop to their fullest potential. Nobody succeeds on their own; every young person’s strength and resilience is fostered by those who have taught them they can do anything they put their mind to.
I am who I am because of some of my mentors. My earliest mentors were my mother and father. I can recall my dad had a passion for writing and a love of the English language. From early on, he instilled in me the belief in the power of words and provided me with guidance on developing this skill.
Of course, Dr. Gertrude Barber (my Aunt Tootie) had a profound influence on my career. From my earliest days volunteering at the Barber Center as a teenager, I observed her skills in working with parents, staff, and the community at large. Most importantly, I observed her compassion with the children and adults at the Center.
As I grew older and began working at the Institute, there were many professionals and para professionals who graciously offered me guidance and helped me to grow. Now, many years later, I consider it a privilege to be able to mentor the many young students and professionals who come to our school ready to begin a career in special education. In this way, I’m continuing to carry on Dr. Barber’s vision for the Barber National Institute by echoing her beliefs today.
January, National Mentoring Month, celebrates mentoring and the positive effect it can have on young lives. It’s also an opportunity to draw attention to the need for more mentors, to help young people achieve their full potential. The need for mentoring is all around us. Look around your community to explore where your mentoring might be most beneficial, both to you and to the young person. I guarantee you it will be a win-win situation!
President Obama has issued a very compelling proclamation for National Mentoring Month, which you can read here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/12/28/presidential-proclamation-national-mentoring-month-2017