Mentor Profile: Betsy Weidner
Participating in the Needham Steps Up program has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn more about Needham High School and the Needham community. The relationship I have developed with my mentee, and with the larger NSU group of mentors and mentees, has taught me a lot about the student experience in Needham and has made me feel like an important part of the larger Needham community. The monthly group meetings offer a unique peek into the relationships of other mentors and mentees, and allow each pairing to exist within a larger context. Together with the group, my mentee and I have toured a local college, built gingerbread houses, learned a step routine, hiked in the Blue Hills, explored the Powerschool and Naviance programs, and eaten lots of pizza. I enjoy seeing my mentee interact with other members of the program, as I can see her growing into a more confident member of the group with each month that passes.
The relationship I have developed with my mentee is most important to me. As a freshman, my mentee was hesitant to share any academic information with me. Instead, we got to know each other through music. During our first couple of meetings, she brought her guitar and played a few songs while I sang along. Looking back on it, I can’t believe how comfortable she was playing guitar for a teacher and stranger. We have since stopped playing music together, and now meet every week for breakfast. My mentee and I discuss our families, pets, school stressors, school assignments and weekend plans.
Over the past three years my mentee and I have been working together, she has grown and been able to transfer the level of comfort she established with me to a new confidence she carries with her when interacting with her academic teachers. As part of Needham Steps Up, students establish academic and personal goals every year. My mentee’s academic goal for her sophomore year was to increase her level of communication with her teachers. Through our work together, she was able to understand the importance of reaching out to those who want to help her learn and to communicate her needs. I watched as my mentee stayed after school with her English teacher and communicated more frequently with her history and Spanish teachers. It has been rewarding to see my mentee gain confidence in herself as a student.
Needham Steps Up provides a number of resources and opportunities that my mentee has recently started to tap into. With the guidance of the NSU program, my mentee and I have discussed her postgraduate plans, registering for the PSATs, SAT prep courses, and drivers’ education class. I have been able to help my mentee learn how to break down her big questions about life after high school into smaller, more manageable questions. She and I were able to generate a list of questions she needed to discuss with her school counselor and teachers. My mentee often tells me that she wants to accomplish certain goals, whether that’s getting a driver’s license or studying for a test, but she needs a push to get her going. I am happy to be that push. I am thankful for the community support of Needham Steps Up, and I am a true believer in the power of the mentoring relationship.