Mentors: Share your story about school

Mentors can assist their mentees in elementary, middle and high school by sharing their own experience about their years in school.

Most young people are in school from ages 5-18. After they graduate from high school, they have the option to attend a trade school or college, or work. Having a mentor can assist in preventing students from risky behaviors that can lead to trouble during their time in school. For example, in two studies cited in the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network at Clemson University, there has been a reported decrease in certain behaviors like initiating drug and alcohol use, skipping school and getting into trouble. With a decrease in these types of behaviors, it increases the chances for a student to graduate from high school and live to be a productive citizen.

Someone may think, “I wasn’t the best student in school,” or, “I’m not a tutor.” Helping a student make it through school goes outside of academics. There are other ways a mentor can help students through school, such as sharing their story about their years in school. To start off, Michigan State University Extension suggests mentors share the following:

  • How school was like.
  • How a typical day was during school.
  • Friends in school.
  • Activities like school organizations, community clubs, sports, band, theatre, drama, etc.
  • Social activities for fun (hang out at the mall, play video games, etc.).
  • Type of fashion that was in style.
  • Favorite teacher.
  • Favorite subject.
  • Favorite memories of school.
  • Type of jobs held during high school.
  • A positive person (or people) who influenced them to do the right thing or something good in life.

Students can go through difficult times or have challenging situations they can encounter throughout their years in school. Another item a mentor can share is answering the question, “How did you handle difficult situations?” These situations can range from the stress and pressure to making good grades, dealing with bullies or bullying, trying to fit in or finding that path to discover an identity.

Someone might also think, “I didn’t do a good job or the best job in any difficult situation during school.” “School was not the best time in life for me.” “I didn’t act right in school.” Feelings or thoughts like this can give a mentor an opportunity to share their experience and use it to prevent youth from making negative decisions or engaging in unhealthy behaviors.

For example, answer this question to help youth, “What would you do different to say you handled a difficult situation effectively?” Consider this question as a mentor or potential mentor to share your experience to a mentee, “How can you as a mentor use your story to help a mentee be encouraged to do the right thing or have a positive outlook with their situation?”

One thing that is going right for mentors when they share about their days in school is the time they have taken to develop a relationship with a youth who knows that they have a support person. Being there for a youth and showing that someone cares during their time in school can make a difference.

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