The names, photos, and details have been anonymized to protect the privacy of the student(s) involved, but the story is real.

A student was referred to the Created for Greatness mentoring program who has experienced a wonderful transformation. Day one the student couldn’t be found for his first mentor meeting. He was non-verbal and huddled up in the office during repeated elopement from his classroom. After searching all over the school the mentor was directed to the office. This mentor met him where he was, in the office, quiet, taking their time and showing empathy and patience. The student was upset, had his head hanging low, and was distant to all school personnel. This student frequently demonstrated this behavior and it was assumed that a mentor may not be of much use because of the difficulty of getting through to the student.

The mentor persisted and showed up. After spending a period of time with his new mentor, the student slowly began to open up and show interest in the mentor, the conversation, and the environment. He went from cold and distant to warm and present. The mentor was able to get him to come play ping pong with him which precipitated many more matches. The student began having frequent ping pong matches with his mentor, opening up verbally and building a strong trust with his mentor who remained consistent and present each and every time. The repeated effort on both ends was reinforced as time went on creating a stronger connection. The ping pong matches continued and the student gained more confidence and more respect for himself which branched out to those around him to his peers and family. The joy that he found in time spent with his mentor naturally encouraged him to want that same joy and connection for his fellow classmates.

From that challenging, initial meeting the student became open and responsive and is now engaging with enthusiasm that has only continued to grow. Connecting with his mentor has sparked an excitement in the activities being presented. A student, who once sat non-compliant in the corner of the office, is now marching into that same office with a smile on his face asking to speak to the principal about a school wide ping pong tournament. This is the power of one-on-one connections with mentors. When you become a mentor with STRIVE, the foundation of meeting a student where they are, being there for the students, and investing in their lives on a consistent basis lays the groundwork for connection. This connection reaches far beyond the walls of the school for years to come. This connection, and the resulting change to a student’s life, is the cornerstone of the Created for Greatness program.