When Scott Crabtree first signed up to be a volunteer mentor, he thought he would be asked to help students with math or reading. It turned out to be more fun, and more rewarding.
In his time serving as a mentor for two 4th grade students at H.H. Beam Elementary School, he has spent time playing bocce ball, making paper airplanes and building a model car, along with other outdoor activities.
Scott said he chose to volunteer at H.H. Beam because it was an underserved school, and “I believe we have a responsibility from a Christian perspective — what a great opportunity for ministry.”
H.H. Beam is not just a Title 1 school, which designates high poverty, but also is one of 19 schools in Gaston County where, because of the level of need, every student in the school receives free meals.
Scott said he realized mentoring wasn’t so much about working on academic skills.
“It was more about providing a break for the kids — something they can look forward to, something that’s different,” he said.
He’s also aware that neither of his mentees has a father at home. He recognized that it makes a difference when he shows up each week just to spend time with the boys.
“It’s the relational piece that is most important,” he said. “I think the issue of not having a dad around is significant. Being able to model what was modeled for me when I was that age is an incredible opportunity.”
He also feels the mentoring program is an important way for the community to come alongside teachers and invest in our schools.
Our underserved public schools in particular are under significant pressure with limited resources, time, and support. I welcome the opportunity to lend a hand.”
Because community members take time to volunteer, he said, teachers and staff members can know “all these people really care about these kids, and we’re not alone.”
He also appreciates how flexible the program is. With a job that frequently takes him on trips around the country or overseas, he is able to make changes to his mentoring schedule as needed.
Unlike test scores and the letters on a report card, a mentor’s impact can’t be measured, but Scott said he was able to catch a glimpse of it one afternoon last spring. He and his mentees were outside working on a paper airplane kit, when a few students from another class noticed what was happening, and immediately came over to join in.
He remembers them asking his students, “Oh man, how can I get a mentor?”
“It is just really neat for the two boys,” he said. “They had something that somebody else wanted. I don’t think they have that experience a lot.”
The mentoring program allows you to volunteer at the school of your choice and at a time and day that’s convenient for you. If you’re interested, there will be an information and training session at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, in the worship space. Talk to Joy La Prade or Scott Crabtree if you’d like to learn more about the program. You can also get more details at www.gaston.k12.nc.us/mentor