National mentoring month gets personal at LHS

National mentoring month gets personal at LHS
Posted on 11/30/2017

A push to promote November’s National Mentoring Month at Lynden High School turned personal, dozens upon dozens of times.

Lisa Reynolds, the high school’s Be the One Mentoring coordinator, created a bulletin board and cards to promote the month, asking students to write notes of thanks to mentors and either hand-deliver or post them on the board. And the forms of gratitude took many different shapes, whether students expressing thanks to mentors who didn’t know the impact they were having or students pausing to appreciate mentors in a way they never had before.

In one case, a trio of students were working on a thank you note as a group until Reynolds suggested they hand-deliver the card to first-year LHS staff member Suzzie Graddon, who had started organizing youth activities for the church and brought the three students together because of it. “I said ‘why don’t you go tell her,’” Reynolds says. “They found her and brought her over to show her the thank you card on the board. She burst into tears and then took pictures with the three students. That was a beautiful example of the whole idea.”

Reynolds had known for months she wanted to use November as a way to promote mentoring, whether the Be the One program that pairs students with community volunteers, or otherwise. So, to kick off November, she made a presentation in a class on the benefits of mentoring and then paired broadcast journalism students with staff members for interviews about the importance of mentors in their own lives.

“I wanted to communicate to students that we all have mentors, adults who have helped us learn, whether teachers, coaches, neighbors or family friends,” she says. “We have naturally occurring mentors, but we don’t necessarily think of them as mentors. Students who don’t have access to naturally occurring mentors need help being matched and that is what our mentoring program is about.”

Reynolds wanted to further the mentor discussion around LHS and show there wasn’t a negative stigma to having a mentor. “It is good, natural development for everyone,” she says. “We have all kinds of students who ask for mentors for lots of different reasons. I wanted to promote the idea that mentoring is a good thing and to appreciate the mentors we have had.”

So, Reynolds spent a week handing out blank thank you cards and explaining the effort during lunches. About 75 cards made it onto the board, which hung in the LHS hallway during November. Countless more were hand-delivered.

“There are a lot of staff members on there,” Reynolds says about the notes on the board. “There are also a lot of people who recognized teachers from middle school, elementary school, coaches, Young Life leaders, people at church, taekwondo coaches, all kinds of different people. I enjoyed listening to the stories and hearing from the students as they reflected.”

Reynolds hopes this year’s effort encourages students to show appreciation to those who have mentored them and inspire the community to partner with students as part of the Be the One program.

Next year, Reynolds plans to expand the thankful effort districtwide, potentially creating scenes such as the one with Graddon across all buildings at Lynden Schools.