The one thing academy alumni, Mandy Brown, didn’t expect to get from mentoring was the very thing she needed while in a previous role. Read more to learn what mentorship has meant to her.
Mentorship Means Community
One of the most astounding aspects of mentorship has been seeing my impact. That wasn’t always something I had. When I worked at the restorative justice program, learners entered and left the program on individualized plans, and if they never returned, the leadership assumed all went well. (Given that this population was highly transient, this assumption was and remains problematic.)
Returning learners often forgot all the work we’d done from their last trip through the program. They’d remember me but have lost the learning we’d worked so hard to achieve.
So either I’d never see them again, uncertain of the results of my work. Or I’d see the same learners repeatedly and notice how little progress we’d made in closing their skill gaps. And then, of course, I lost learners to violence.
I didn’t see a lot of positive outcomes. I can count on one hand how many learners returned to visit and update me on their progress. On a good day, I’d try to see my work as a sand mandala, blown away after its creation but creating the part that mattered. On the rough days, I identified a lot with Sisyphus, rolling a hill up only to watch gravity take its turn.
It’s been almost three years since I was in that role, and those experiences influence my work now. It’s those experiences that inspired me to create a trauma-informed, teacher-specific mentorship program with IDOL courses Academy. From the first cohort I mentored (without the program) to the third cohort (the second run of the teacher program), there has been a 300% increase in attendance numbers and about a 5% increase in mentees who attend at least six sessions.
Most jarring for me, though, is that mentees come back. 🤯
I have the honor of witnessing mentees' growth and celebrating wins, even after they no longer attend my sessions. One mentee sent me a voice message yesterday screaming, “I got the job!” Another keeps checking in to share about their first week, their first month, their first quarter, and how happy their boss is with their work. Some reach out to ask how to handle situations they’ve never encountered: “Ahhh, how do I negotiate a raise?!” Others reach out to check in on me. And I’ve even gotten mentees asking me to apply for the manager positions that opened on their teams. 😂
When I started mentoring, I expected mentees to disappear into their lives after they finished the cohort or found their IDOL roles. After all, that’s how my other job functioned. To my surprise, this experience has been entirely different.
Mentorship means community. And I’m honored to be a part of this one.