Date: October 9, 2006
About: Amanda Veile - Class of 2004
Mentors Make A Difference In Young Lives
Amanda Veile knows just what sort of mentor she wants to be.
She'll be someone who listens, offers help when it's needed and provides encouragement.
Veile is one of the newest volunteers for Quincy Public Schools'
Child-Family Mentor Program. She'll go through an orientation before she is paired with a youngster who will benefit from a relationship with a stable, caring adult.
Veile already knows what to expect. She wants to be the kind of mentor she had when she was in junior high and high school.
"He's still there for me even now," Veile said, even though she graduated in 2004 and has gone on to study communications and theater at John Wood Community College.
Veile says when she was paired with Dr. Michael Anderson for an hour each week, she was shy, weak in spelling and writing, and preferred to spend her time on a computer.
But Anderson stuck by her, giving her a taste of success by making sure she got her school work done and turned in on time.
"He kind of helped build my confidence," Veile said.
Veile had hoped college was in her future, and Anderson helped her define what she wanted and set goals to achieve it.
She discovered in high school that she loved theater and became determined to one day open her own studio.
"I don't think I'm as timid as I was," Veile said.
For three years running, she has competed in the Miss Quincy contest. Her platform has grown out of some of her own experiences, of accepting people who are different.
Veile hopes as a mentor to pass on the gift of time and concern that Anderson gave to her.
"I think I can make a difference," she said.
Caroll Johnson is an experienced mentor, having volunteered to meet weekly with two third-graders each year for the past six years.
He plans ahead for each session.
At the beginning of the year, Johnson buys a spiral-bound notebook for each child. On the first page, he writes information about himself, his family, his favorite color and his favorite food. On the adjacent page, the child writes similar information about himself.
It's a nonthreatening way for the two to get to know each other, Johnson said.
"I have something planned new to do with each of my kids every day I meet with them," he said. "They look forward to what am I going to do next week, and we have fun with that."
In his 90 years, nearly 30 of which he spent as a teacher, Johnson has plenty to share. The pages of the notebook become a record of their experiences.
Johnson will draw a picture with the children in one session that becomes a lesson in perspective. Another day, they'll play tick-tack-toe. He'll copy one of Aesop's fables into the notebook, and write out poems and limericks, leaving the last word blank for the children to guess. Another page will be devoted to the use of carbon paper.
Johnson reads with his children, but he's not too worried about working through their math lessons, for instance.
"There's stuff they do now that I don't understand because I didn't learn it in school myself," he said. "I'm a role model, not a tutor."
Johnson tells the kids that when the year is over, the notebook will be theirs. Last year, Johnson was proud to report, one of this third-graders volunteered that he couldn't wait until the year ended to take possession of the notebook.
He hopes it will be something they'll cherish and remember him by.
"I leave the year thinking, will I ever see that child again?" he said.
When one of the students recognized him in the grocery story, and greeted him with a hug, "it was so rewarding to me," he said.
Johnson said he doesn't see his own children and grandchildren very often, so mentoring fulfills a necessary part of his life.
"I thrive on love and affection," he said. "We just have fun."
Contact Staff Writer Holly Wagner at (217) 221-3374 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Beth McGee, director of the Quincy Public Schools' Child-Family Mentor Program, has set a goal for the school year of signing up 200 mentors, 50 more than last year.
A variety of mentoring arrangements and times are available for adults willing to serve as a positive role model. Times are also available after school and on Saturdays for adults who are interested in working with the Teen REACH program.
A new mentor orientation is set for 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Oct. 17 at the Resource Center directly behind the School Board office at 1444 Maine.
For more information on mentoring, call McGee at 228-7158, ext. 260, or e-mail her at email@example.com.