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Volunteer Mentoring: Frequently Asked Questions

What does a mentor do?

A mentor is matched with the right student according to need and interest. Mentor and student meet at school for five hours or more per month, working on school projects, homework, reading, playing games, or just talking. Mentors are given training and strategies to help students and to make the most of the relationship.

Mostly a mentor is a friend. Mentoring is about trust and care, and if you are interested already, it’s a great sign that you could be an excellent mentor. Our students are looking for leadership, sometimes without realizing it themselves! It’s our job to insure that they have positive role models and feel like they matter. Because everyone does!

I’m not very good at English, Math, or Science. Can I be a mentor?

Yes. That our program is school and academic-based doesn’t mean that everything is about grades and homework. We expect mentors and mentees to talk about current events, local issues, school events, individual concerns, and other appropriate topics. Legacy Mentoring is not just about grades. It’s about friendships. It’s about trust.

Legacy Mentoring will also give you resource guides to help facilitate inquiry learning for both the mentor and the mentee. You, the mentor, should be learning just as the mentee is. If neither student nor mentor knows the answer to some academic question, we will try to show you how to find it. Provided Internet, library, classroom, cultural, local, and media resources will help you do research and build a relationship of cooperation and trust along the way.

How frequently do mentors and young people get together? Where do they meet? For how long?

Optimally, mentors and students will meet for an hour once per week. Schedules will vary, however, and nothing needs to be set in stone. Mentors and students will arrange meetings at the best times possible, keeping each other notified of changes or updates. If you can’t commit just five hours a month, Legacy Mentoring might not be the best volunteer option. We want students and mentors to meet as much as their schedules will allow but realize unforeseen things can change the plan. There is some flexibility within the requirements, but we think you’ll enjoy mentoring so much that five hours will seem too easy.

How long am I expected to commit to the mentoring relationship?

It’s best for the student if you stay committed for a year. This provides continuity over a whole academic year and helps in unifying their learning and personal goals. Still, Legacy Mentoring understands that mentoring might not be the best volunteer activity for some or that others might be worried mentoring will be disastrous despite their hopes to the contrary. Legacy Mentoring staff will facilitate a match switch as soon as possible after a mentor has chosen to withdraw from the program, though a quick mentor match can be difficult. We want to provide our students much needed consistency in a world of expediency and constant change and hope that you can stay with Legacy Mentoring for a year. It’s life-changing. It’s fun. It’s meaningful.

What sorts of activities do mentors and young people do together?

As an in-school mentoring program, Legacy Mentoring will be focused on school work and projects where appropriate. Some students might need tutoring in math. Some might need a helping hand in reading or writing. Some might just want to talk about what they learned about the Civil War. No academic topic is off-limits. You will see which areas your mentee has difficulty and try to help him or her complete assignments, projects, or homework. You can alternate activities every session: reading, then doing math homework during the next session, then working on an essay during the following session. Sometimes school work might take a backseat altogether and you will focus on talking about issues in the news or discussing anecdotes, friends, or upcoming events.

Mentoring isn’t all about talk. You are encouraged to play thoughtful, imaginative, and creative games with your mentee. You might want to show them a website or demonstrate a craft that you have mastered. Maybe your mentee has a volleyball game coming up and wants to practice his/her serve. Or perhaps your mentee plays magic and wants to teach you how to play. What mentors and students do together is engage in the world. There’s a lot to talk about, play, learn, research, ponder, and discover. As long as it’s appropriate to the school environment, it’s included in our mission.

How do I get the relationship started? Does Legacy Mentoring help me?

You get the relationship started right at that first facilitated meeting. The mentor and mentee training prepares both parties to start right up with the program. Our matching process also helps provide that mentor and mentee share some interests. Mentors will have activities, games, and other options for their first meetings, so the getting-to-know-you process can be done in a fun and relaxed manner. Legacy Mentoring will offer any support that it can, trouble-shoot any difficult problems, and aid in the process of moving forward together.

How old are the young people I would be likely to mentor? What are they like? Are they “at-risk?” Will I be safe?

Legacy Mentoring students range from fourth through sixth grade. They are as diverse as the Utah County communities in their desires, preferences, sizes, and choices. Legacy Mentoring does focus its energy on supporting students who need it most, whether it’s for academics, social difficulties, bullying, or some other challenge. “At-risk” might be a good phrase for some students. “In-need” is the best term for most. We want to show every student, regardless of race, class, gender, background, experience, behavior, that they are valuable citizens.

Any student can participate. We will accommodate every student that resources allow.

Our schools are remarkably safe, statistically speaking. Mentors will, however, have protocol and staff support to keep themselves safe at all times and in all unanticipated circumstances.

Do you train and prepare the students too?

Yes. Students are prepared to be mentored with a short orientation and training session. They are familiarized with the policies and procedures of Legacy Mentoring while also readied for and knowledgeable of what to expect during mentoring sessions or field trips.

What happens if I run into a problem with a young person? What if we don’t get along? Can I quit? Does your organization offer any help?

If you have any concerns or questions about your relationship with a student, contact the Legacy Mentoring office. We will assist in remedying or mediating the challenge at hand and give advice, support, and feedback regarding effective mentoring practices that will make nearly all students easy to get along with. Legacy Mentoring staff is ready to discuss any questions or challenges that you might have during the mentoring process. Our aim is to support every student who wants it or for whom it would be of benefit. Therefore transferring is not recommended; students mature best when they can hold that same mentor for at least a year. Also, we might not be able to match the student with another mentor immediately due to volunteer constraints or limiting match criteria. Still, if you don’t get along with your mentee after we’ve helped you and the student reconcile your challenge, disagreement, or clash of personality, you can request a transfer.

We ask that you give it a shot, let us help, and try out some new techniques before choosing a different path. If you will recall this Japanese proverb: “A calm sea does not a skilled sailor make.” You and your mentee will benefit from your perseverance and hurdles along the way. Another saying goes like this: Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it. We will give you many tools and ideas; all you have to do is put in the effort.

How will I know if I am making a difference?

You will know that you’re making a difference by the way your mentee behaves and performs at school and how he or she interacts with you. The difference you make is measured by the trust your mentee has in you. If you have a healthy friendship, that is success. If you have fun, that is success. If you help with his/her projects, homework, essays, that is success. This is a program about letting better citizens find themselves and rediscover their world through interaction with you, our adults and leaders. By just showing up, you will be making a difference.

Mentoring is not a sprint. You will probably see a slow development of trust and interest in your relationship. Over the course of a year, perhaps your mentee will just begin reading more fluently or begin to open up about his or her experiences. Since mentoring is more like running a marathon than running a mile, just remember it’s not about making massive strides right now; it’s about making many strides for many weeks. Small steps, little improvements in academics and your relationship is all it takes. If you show up, are ready to have fun, and care about our students, you will inevitably make a difference.

How soon will I be matched with a youth? I hear so much about so many young people needing mentors, why can't I be matched with one tomorrow or next week?

The matching process takes some time. We have to be certain that mentor/mentee matches are optimal, that time and interests are compatible, that there is space in the schools and free time when you are available to mentor. The coordination of Legacy Mentoring is complex yet highly refined so that every possible student, every available mentor, and limited space and resources can be organized as efficiently as possible. Just give us two to three weeks following your initial training to match you with a student. Care and investment in set-up time is what will help make your relationship with our youth and the Legacy Mentoring program successful.

How do I become a mentor? What’s the process?

  1. Learn More.
    • Visit the website: /mentor
    • Call and talk with the program coordinator 801 465-6050
  2. Submit an application. Applications can be found at:
    • Nebo Legacy Office (Taylor Elementary, 40 South 500 West  Payson UT )
    • /mentor
    Send the application to: Nebo Legacy Mentor, Taylor Elementary, 40 South 500 West  Payson UT
  3. Following invitation to participate, attend the orientation and training session.

    Get more familiar with the program and learn about mentoring tools, strategies, and concepts that will make mentoring a breeze. It’s fun, easy, and enlightening. Plus you’ll learn about the schools, fun activities, teaching, and meet lots of nice people.

  4. Meet Janna Manookin, Coordinator, for an interview.

    It’s a short, straightforward interview where the coordinator learns more about you.

  5. Meet your student mentee.

    You’re there! You and your mentee will meet with Janna, the program coordinator, at school for the first time, where you’ll agree to some ground rules and be introduced. After you’ve set up a schedule and talked a bit, it’s all about getting to know your mentee and letting him or her know you.

  6. Have fun.

Do you need references or to conduct a background check on me?

Yes. Due to district policy and the need to ensure we choose the best volunteers possible, we need two personal references and two employer references. We will also do a background check.