261 – Being a Mentor

mentor

Look guys, it’s no secret that I work at a high school. The high school itself, however, is a secret – I’m not putting anyone on blast. It is the kind of job people say “must be rewarding.” And when people say that, you just kind of nod vaguely. I wouldn’t say I get nothing out of the job (besides money. I do get money), but the victories can be few and far-between. So I jump at any chance to feel like I am making a difference.

My first two years at the school were almost devoid of any difference-making at all. I worked in the library and did detention. Between forcing kids to read and forcing kids to stay after school, I was easily have a negative net impact on the students’ own perception of their lives. So when the opportunity arose to work in the classroom, I was excited to take it (an increase in monetary compensation may also have played a role – who can say?).

So now I work in the classroom, assisting in various subjects, doing what I can to help as many students pass as possible. Who knows what kind of effect I’m actually having. At least students dont groan when they see me (well, most students).

I titled this review “Being a Mentor,” but that’s not strictly correct. I try to guide as many students as I can, but I don’t feel comfortable calling myself their “mentor.” It’s really just a workable title; I’m a whore for page views. Really I’m an advisor – literally, as well as figuratively.

Last year I decided to pass on some of my own skills and interests as the advisor of the improv club. A group of students and I met weekly and I tried to impart some of the wisdom I’ve learned from performing and watching hundreds of hours of improvised comedy. It sounds cheesy and maudlin, but improv has changed my life in a very real way – not just in the friendships I’ve formed, but also in the way that I view myself as a human being. If I can give some of that confidence and self-awareness to a group of disenfranchised high school students, I may actually feel like I have accomplished something.

Year two of improv club started up again today, and I can’t wait to see where these kids take it. There’s new members and a renewed interest from the students and myself. I’m building an honest-to-god curriculum and I’m hoping we can make some real progress. The most impressive part? I didn’t even know there was a stipend when I agreed to do this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gonna take the money – but I was willing to do this before I even knew there was money involved. That’s a big step for me. Perhaps I’m evolving as much as the students are.

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