Mentor Profile: Pete Caccavale
My time in the Needham Steps Up Program has been one of the greatest experiences of my teaching career. When I first was approached to be a mentor, I was very unsure of how it would go. Would I be able to help my mentee? Would we connect? Would I be a good mentor? All of those thoughts swirled around in my head right up until I first met my mentee. At that moment, all my anxieties seemed to fade away and I was no longer some all-knowing, perfect mentor, I was just sitting with a student having a real conversation about our interests and likes.
For me, that has been the biggest realization about being a mentor—there is no such thing as a “perfect” one and no two relationships need to be exactly the same. At the end of the day, my mentee and I have built a relationship on being honest and real with one another through the triumphs and the struggles. After a certain point, my mentee became more than just another student I was helping out with school and more like a younger brother I was trying to guide through life. Our conversations often revolve around school and getting to class on time, but they are so much more than that. Oftentimes we talk about sports, video games, social life at Needham High and anything that happens to be on our minds that day. Sometimes we just go grab something to eat and talk about nothing. That’s the beauty of being a mentor—it gives me a chance to break through that teacher-student barrier and connect with at least one student on a much deeper level than I ever could otherwise do.
I started Needham Steps Up worried about whether or not I would be a perfect mentor. Little did I know that just being there for my mentee and helping him out through the chaos that four years of high school can bring was all that I needed to do. It has never been about being perfect; it’s about being perfect for him. That’s the beauty of Needham Steps Up -- we aren’t trying to change the world, we are just trying to make each day, week, month or year better than the last for our mentees.
Luckily for Needham, the NSU mentors are some of the best people I have had the pleasure of working with. Needham Steps Up has always maintained a strong connection to the community and I know that with its continued support we will be able to make a difference in the lives of all our mentees for years to come. Being a part of such an important program has been one of my proudest accomplishments as a teacher. I hope the community understands just how lucky we all are to have NSU here at the high school and continues to support it in the future!