Why I Mentor Interview
NAME: Danielle Shilling
- How long have you been a mentor?
This is my second school year as a mentor.
- What made you want to be a mentor?
I was originally introduced to the program through my fellow AmeriCorps VISTA’s who were also mentors and loved it being a part of their year in Montana. I think this is a wonderful opportunity not only for the students but also for the mentors.
It provides a student with an adult in their life that is consistent and reliable. Mentors are open to listening to their mentees and hearing what they have to say, even if it is as simple as what their favorite video game is or what they are looking forward to doing over the weekend. It provides a safe space for the mentees to express themselves during a day at school where this can be hard to do.
- If you had a mentor when you were in middle school, what might that have done for you?
I think I would have really enjoyed being able to talk to an adult in my life that I knew was just going to listen and not judge or react in a strong way. I would also have really liked to gain new perspectives of ideals and beliefs that I was forming at the time from an adult that was not a family member.
- What are the most interesting things you and your mentee talk about?
Travis did a really good job pairing up myself with my mentee! We both love the color black and experimenting with our styles. We love talking about different types of fashion and where we get our clothes and unique makeup. We also talk about the things we like to do for fun and how we love and appreciate the differences that we have as well!
- What’s your favorite part of mentoring?
My favorite part of mentoring is being able to connect and become friends with a student that I most likely would not have had the opportunity to otherwise. I get to support and understand her as an individual and see her grow over time! I think it is also nice to be able to talk over a meal and is a break in the day that I look forward to and so does she!
- Why would you recommend someone else become a mentor?
I would recommend someone to be a mentor because it encourages and creates a meaningful relationship between two individuals that might not have developed without this program. It is rewarding to maintain a relationship with a student and be able to provide them support when needed, even when it is as simple as helping them navigate communication with their friends.
The time commitment is also rather small so it is relatively easy to fit into a work schedule.
- What kinds of peer relationship issues do you see when you visit the school (not only with your mentee but with the other students you observe?
I have observed not understanding how to handle conflict well and lack of understanding communication skills and how they can be used in various situations and environments. I think that a lot of times students are quick to judge and make assumptions that can be blown out of proportion. I also have heard a bit of physical aggression in conflicts being an issue.
- How do you think we can help the students learn what healthy peer relationships should look like?
I think modeling is really important and being able to see how their actions affect others emotionally and physically. It is difficult at that age to not be egocentric at times and teaching empathy and compassion is very important. I also think that there needs to be more training in how to use technology, especially when it comes to peer relationships and different environments that technology is used in.