The Be the One mentoring program at Lynden Middle School saw massive success in early 2019. Brian Clemmer, LMS program director, knows that as fall 2019 melds into the remainder of the school year, the mentoring program will only continue to grow.
“The program is becoming more popular with the students,” he says. “Now students are coming and asking for a mentor because their friends have one.”
The 2018-19 school year started with nine mentoring matches — the program pairs a middle school student with a volunteer adult from the community for hourly in-school mentoring throughout the school year — and ended with 40 matches. This year’s start featured 20 matches and he’s hoping to have the same kind of growth as last school year.
“Students are being impacted positively,” he says. “Students who face a variety of difficulties are saying that their mentors are people they can trust and who listen to them. One girl said, ‘My mentor is the nicest person I have ever met.’”
This connection allows students who do not normally feel “heard” to have a voice. Mentors who believe in and encourage students provides ongoing hope for the students, helping with everything from social interactions to academics.
Each month, LMS is seeing a steady stream of new mentor volunteers, allowing the program to continue to grow.
The Be the One program is open to any interested student, sometimes finding the program because they’ve heard about it from a friend or have been referred to it by a counselor or teacher. No matter how they find Be the One, all students have the opportunity to gain mentoring, if the volunteer is available.
“There are studies out there that show mentoring can help with academics, attendance, confidence, participation in activities, post-high school planning, jobs and career directions, skills for the workforce and can decrease risky behavior,” he says. “The mentors come alongside the students and encourage and build confidence, personal growth and character.”
Clemmer says he’s seen with many of the students he’s worked with that school might not be their favorite thing in the world, but a mentor offers an outlet to talk about issues, whether difficulties at school or at home. “It is a unique relationship not found with a counselor, teacher or parent,” he says. “Often a foundation is built, and a student can then share with this person confidentially and they build trust. It gives a little bit of an outlet for the students to express themselves and work through some issue they might be having.”
Typically, Clemmer finds that females are more likely to volunteer from the community, meaning that middle school boys are the ones stuck on the waiting list, in a holding pattern until more males from the community volunteer. Clemmer not only helps pair the students and adults, but he also recruits and trains adults.
The Be the One program continues in high school, so often students partnered early in their middle school career can stick with the same mentor all the way through graduation.
For volunteers interested in learning more, visit the Be the One website at BeTheOneToday.org. For parents or students looking for more information, contact Clemmer at LMS or Lisa Reynolds at Lynden High School.