Friday, January 13, 2006

January is National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month. National Mentoring Month mentoring and the positive effect it can have on young lives. Its goals are to:

* Raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms;
* Recruit individuals to mentor, especially in programs that have a waiting list of young people;
* Promote the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage their constituents in mentoring.

The Harvard Mentoring Project is joining with National Mentoring Month launching on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 Thank Your Mentor Day™. The theme for Thank Your Mentor Day is "Who mentored you? Thank them…and pass it on!"

The idea behind "Who mentored you?" is to help people connect to the importance of mentoring by encouraging them to think about individuals in their lives during their formative years—family members, teachers, coaches, neighbors, employers, friends—who encouraged them, showed them the ropes, and helped them become who they are today. The campaign's message is that, today, too many young people do not get enough of that kind of support; mentoring programs can help fill the gap but need more volunteers.

I had many mentors in my life...all seemed to be teachers. First I found this special encouragement in elementary and secondary school where a select few helped me find my confidence and my "smartness" when I didn't even know it was there. As I grew, teachers continued to be a great source of support for me. College, Graduate School and Postdoctoral Graduate School. In each place, there was someone who took my developing skills and helped me evolve. Shared their wisdom, their time, and their devotion. Now, in my role as professor in the university where I teach, I am now the mentor. I find great joy in it and love to "Pay It Forward".

Mentoring is a present you give to others and a gift that you give yourself.


Nancy said...

I had a teacher who forced me to do a report and give it orally. I was terrified, but I did it. I got an A on the report and will never forget her.

A year later a friend of mine used my report and the teacher remembered it. She got a big fat F.

This mentoring project is a great thing! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Congrats on the Wellness Blog Award Deb! You deserve it. You do great work and are certainly paying it foward!

Psych Pundit said...

During the application process for clinical psychology graduate school, I had to interview with several different programs. At one program, the interviewer (a member of the faculty) told me, "the quality of your training experience will be shaped, to a large degree, by the quality of mentorship you receive; it will be the single most important relationship of your entire professional life".

How true those words turned out to be! Hardly a day goes by in my professional life when I'm not reminded in some way of my grad school mentor (Dr. Ed Craighead). He's the one who kindled in me a passion for clinical research, for teaching, and for the practice of psychotherapy.

Now, as I mentor graduate students of my own, I find myself thinking often of the wonderful example set by Ed Craighead. Through me, I feel like he's still (indirectly) touching many lives!

Fallen Angels said...

Wow...amazing how memories happen! As I read this I was thinking to myself, "I didn't have an mentors, wasn't any safer for me then home was". Then I remembered my old 9th grade English teacher. I guess she would qualify as a mentor. In the 9th grade she really didn't do anything unusual...except make certain I ended up in 10th grade AP (advanced placement) English. However, while I was in 10th grade, she sought me out (not hard, it was a very samll town and school, my graduating class, the largest ever, was 76 students), and decided to teach me how to make a doll, a hobby of hers. This was the only person (up untii recent years) that ever took time for me outside what was expected. It was also because of her that I found myself in therapy for the first time. The therapy was largely unhelpful since my parents were strongly opposed to it (school mandated) and I was 14...from what I remember and have been told by way of notes from the others inside, no one would speak in therapy. I do believe that this teacher was instrumental in me still being alive today though. It was she that recognized my first (botched) suicide attempt, and although none of us really talked about anything, someone cared...that made a difference I think.

Id it is said...

To all the Annie Sullivans of the world who opened new worlds for those they mentored! Mine was my 9the grade Math teacher, Mr. Newbolt, who by recognizing me as a 'pudit' in Math worked miracles for my self esteem! Not that I went on to become a mathematician, in fact far from! I ended up a literature lover!

Playground in my Mind said...

Mike was mentoring before. His birthday was the 7th. Forever 29. He's been gone for almost seven years now. That is what I think about in January. Renee

I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

I didn't know about this special tribute to mentors in January...and am so glad you enlightened us.

I have so thoroughly enjoyed mentoring new doulas and the non-profit work that I do is toward that end.

I also _love_ my childbirth education teaching--I truly feel that what I am doing is preparing and mentoring the women and their partners as they prepare for their birth experience.

I was personally mentored by a doc and a couple of nurses years ago, and then by another nurse/childbirth educator more recently.

The proof is in the pudding, as grandma used to back in school at age 44 working for my RN I can attest to the value of the mentors I had.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nancy,
What a great story with a funny ending. Hope you GOM and the girls are good, and oh yes, the dog too.

Dear PsychPundit,
It is amazing how a mentoring relationship can offer so much!!

Dear Sera,
Angels find us - - - sounds like this teacher was one.

Dear Id It Is,
Sometimes another person's voice or insight opens up our own eyes to the gifts we have within us.

Dear Renee,
Touching tribute. Sending you hugs.


Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Nancy,
What a great story with a funny ending. Hope you GOM and the girls are good, and oh yes, the dog too.

Dear PsychPundit,
It is amazing how a mentoring relationship can offer so much!!

Dear Sera,
Angels find us - - - sounds like this teacher was one.

Dear Id It Is,
Sometimes another person's voice or insight opens up our own eyes to the gifts we have within us.

Dear Renee,
Touching tribute. Sending you hugs.


Laura:) said...

I have had a lot of Mentors. I guess I am lucky to have had so many special people help me.

Cathy said...

Thank You, Dr. Deb (and Traci)
for your responses on your last post. Most helpful and I will follow it up.

Heidi said...

Wow..I feel so out of the loop..I never had a mentor..Wish I did.

It's never to late to pay it forward even if you never experianced it. Re: mentor.

Thankyou Deb

Joel said...

I missed having an effective mentor when I needed it most. I feel wasted as a result.

These days I participate in an adult literacy program. My 25 year old student may never turn into an appreciator of literature, but I am exposing him to whatever I can.

We've been reading comic book versions of Shakespeare's plays. Last one was Hamlet. Now we're doing A Midsummer's Night Dream.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I can't believe you wrote about this today! I had the most amazing teacher in high school. She taught french and spanish and during my sophomore year she saved my life. Things were not good at home, my mom was gone caring for my grandmother and my grades were falling into the toilet. She sent me a note while I was in another class asking to see me. I went in terrified I had done something wrong and she just sat me down and started was the first time in my entire life that somebody took a moment to care about what was happening to me or even noticed that something was "off". After I graduated high school and got married, this teacher moved several times and ended up hiding from her ex husband in Colorado of all places. I hadn't heard from her in so many years but one night I dreamt about her and started trying to find her. It took two years, but find her I did. She was teaching spanish at the high school level. I was able to email her and thank her for the powerful effect she had on my life. She shared my email with a friend as well as her principal and they cried just like I did during the writing of it. It's been a few years now, we keep in touch and now she has thyroid cancer. It isn't going to take her life however what a terrifying diagnosis eh? I hope I am some comfort to her as she was such a lifesaver and comfort to me. What a blessing to find her again after more than 20 years. Thanks for the post Deb. As usual, fabulous. Peace.

dragonflyfilly said...

"Which" Doctor?

One of the most extraordinary people in my life, and someone whom i considered a mentor was Jay Segal, my first year Anthropology instructor. He came from Oregon, where he resigned his job as a physicist with a major chemical company because he disagreed with their policies/politics, and came to Canada (maybe he was a draft dodger, but we did not discuss this)- and he had been adopted by someone in the Haida clan, i think.

i had not seen him for a zillion years, when one day, while waiting for a bus in Downtown Vancouver, and suffering a massive Migrain headache, there he was, storlling through the bus depot on his way to somewhere...we chatted for about 15 minutes...a few minutes after we said our goodbyes, i realized that my Migrain was completely gone! I heard that he had died about 5 years ago. And now, sometimes, when i have a migraine, i think of him, i picture me looking deep into his eyes, and sometimes, my headache will miraculously disappear. Maybe more than a Mentor, eh?

i would also have to say that my Middle Sister continues to be a mentor to me, although she may disagree, but then she is very modest.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Laura,
You were lucky, indeed.

Dear Cathy,
So glad :)

Dear Heidi,
It's never to late to find a mentor or be one.

Dear Joel,
Your post tugged at my heart. Like I said to Heidi, it is never too late to find a mentor. You are already one to your student.

Dear Traci,
What an amazing turn of events. Fate is amazing.

Dear Dragonflyfilly,
Oh, I get migraines and they can be so great that your meeting offset it. I like this mentor month idea. It seems to generate a lot of thoughts and nostaglia.

~Deb said...

What??? You are now my own personal BLOG mentor! How do you get all these people to read your BLOG? The only people that read mine are the people I bug the Hell out of. March is national frozen food month. Maybe I will BLOG about that. I gotta get a job with less free time.

Donna said...

I had two teachers that I considered mentors, one at my junior college and one at my university. The one at the junior college was a psych teacher who told me I would make a good teacher. The one at my university? I worked for him as a TA. He both taught and has a clinical practice. He showed me that you can do both, and that the clinical helps the teaching become better and more up-to-date.

Whenever I graduate from grad school, I'll be proud to send both of them my notice of graduation. They both gave me the confidence to see that I could do what I wanted in the field.

A Flowered Purse said...

I never had a mentor, there are many times i wish i had!
I think its a great idea!!
Goodf or you on paying it forward!

ellesu said...

A friend living out of state stopped by today on the way to retrieve his adult daughter and bring her home to her children (who are living with him and his wife). They are all in such a desperate situation -- tired, hurting, scared.

He mentioned that his daughter and her ex had not been taught the skills in their early lives that they now needed to cope with life. He said they need training, but how do you train adults... especially when things are falling apart all around them?

I'm going to mention the mentoring concept to him. It could (hopefully) help to have someone around who cares and encourages and shows those two lost souls HOW to make things different.

Thanks, Deb!

astrorat said...

As a mentor my self (TA for my university), and as a student who’s had many inspirational teachers (including you, yes you) i think that this is really a beautiful and thoughtful post.

i love all my mentors :D

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Tombotts,
You have such great humor, I LOL at the posts on your blog and your comments here. I surf blogs, make friends and invite people over...and I always visit every person who visits my blog.

Dear Donna,
I bet each of those people will have such joy reading your announcement. It is so wonderful when someone can open up your world just by showing some interest.

Dear Dianna,
I have found myself surprised that a few people here have mentioned that no one mentored them in their life. It takes so little to touch someone else's life. A neighbor who shows you how to prune flowers, a relative who teaches how to cook, a teacher who instills a sense of confidence, a friend who shows you the ropes...I wish I could have been your mentor. Maybe I can be now?!

Dear Ellesu,
That is a heartbreaking story. There are often community groups or adult-ed that can bridge some of the lost skills and art in life. But with all that has gone on in the gulf coast, I think it might be hard to find that now. I will do more thinking and see if I can come up with some other suggestions.

Dear Astrorat,
I like the mentoring month idea too. I actually stumbled across it while sending an ecard to my friend. There was an ecard that said Happy Mentor Month. So I researched it and found all the info. Mentoring is such a gift. And thank you for your sweet sentiments.


Rose said...

This is so impoartant to have a mentor. I had so many who helped me navigate life's journey. Now so many teens need them because of the problems they are experiencing in their homes. Mentor and Big Brothers-Bis Sisters are two good places to volunteer. They always have teens on the waiting list because there are never enough big Bro & Big Sis to go round. Mentoring relationships really help all involved.

jumpinginpuddles said...

mentors are people who enrich our lives but can also lead us onwards in truth

kath said...


I am sure that you are an amazing mentor..
you are so meticulous and caring to your "stranger friends" that I have to believe that you are even more so in the "real world"


thank goodness for goodness of people like you

Dirk the Feeble said...

This is all well and good, but you "people-helpers" need to realize that before we can help other people, we first need to respect ourselves. Therefore I need to work on me if I'm going to truly be a help to anyone else, which is why I don't mentor - because it gives me less time for the important thing in my life (namely, myself).

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Rose,
Big Bros/Sis is a good organization, literacy agencies and community volunteer orgs also. You are right in this day and age that we need to do more to help others.

Dear Jumpinginpuddles,
Very well said.

Dear Kath,
You are a great mentor to the kids you work with too. And let's not forget your furkids!

Dear Armaedes,
For every mentor there is a
ment-ee. Maybe you can find one to help you find yourself. ;)


Deb S. said...

My mentors have included my high school journalism advisor, a psychology professor, and a former boss. All of these men took an interest in my growth, believed in me and became my "cheerleaders."

A mentor came into my son's life when my son was a small boy. Twenty years later, my son towers over his mentor, but they have maintained a close relationship all these years. I am proud of the fine young man my son has become. I give a lot of credit to his selfless mentor.

Len said...

Hello Dr. Deb coming by way of DCS blog. What a beautiful post. I had numerous mentors each left an indelible mark upon my life.

However, my father was the most influential. He believed in me when seemingly no else did. I am so grateful to have him for a father. After my father died, I had an elder confidant who became my mentor she was angelic. I learned a lot from her.

I support mentor programs. Thanks for sharing this information.

Nurse Practitioners Save Lives said...

I had a wonderful high school teacher who was as new-age as I could remember. She believed in reincarnation and spirit guides. I used to babysit her daughter when she was 3,now she's graduated from college herself. I haven't seen this lady for 20 years but I still talk to her on the phone and send Christmas cards. She was always so reachable and listened to me blather about nothing and everything. I miss her...

N~Control said...

I too had many mentors in my life, and still meeting people who make a positive difference, The people who influenced me most in my life were none other than my parents, I hope one day I can be that support for someone that my parents were and are to me.

Great Post as always.

lady in satin said...

I would love to be a mentor!! I feel like its a natural ability that I have. I love inspiring people to be better and to do better. I definitely appreciate those who have mentored me along the way. I'm looking forward to doing the same for others.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear DCS,
How wonderful for you and your son to have had these cheerleaders in your lives!

Dear Len,
Family members are also mentors. Your dad must feel very lucky to know how you feel about him.

Dear NPSL,
Such a sweet story!

Dear Ncontrol,
It is very fortunate that your parents were also your mentors. That is truly wonderful.

Dear LadyinSatin,
I think you'd be an awesome mentor...and I bet you are one already.