Evers Park Mentor goes from Building Walls to Tearing Them Down


As a commercial architectural interior designer, Patricia Bender built many beautiful walls. As a mentor, she has torn down walls for her protégé and replaced them with bridges to learning.

“My biggest question was: What can I do in an hour and a half a week?” Patricia Bender remembers.

Patrica began with De’Shyre perfectly reading a library book only to find she had memorized it. Working together on the list of 50 sight words—making letters with Play-Doh, arranging words on flash cards into sentences, filling in work sheets—De’Shyre and Patricia built a strong vocabulary and a strong friendship. The little girl flourished with her mentor’s praise.

“When De’Shyre grabbed my hand as we walked back to her class, I knew we would be great study buddies,” says Ms Bender.

At the end of the year, Patricia gave De’Shyre an album of all the things they had worked on that year. On the cover was her picture. The first grader was so proud of all the good work she had done. Her teacher reported that on the test over the 50 sight words, De’Shyre knew 48.

“I don’t know who was more pleased,” beams Patricia, “the teacher, De’Shyre, or me.”

Prospective Mentors often say, “But I have never been a teacher. How will I know how to mentor?” The truth is, mentoring is more like being an orthodontist. You need to apply constant, gentle pressure in order to move your mentee in the right direction. If you are not constant, the occasional good you do will not last. If you are not gentle, you may do more harm than good forcing the mentee to resist or give up. If you do not apply some pressure, there will be no positive movement. Constant, gentle pressure is what it takes.

Mentor Denton will provide answers for your concerns. Current mentors are glad to share ideas that work for them. Our website will spotlight one successful mentor each month. We will also include helpful links to mentoring websites. If you think you could benefit from a group learning lunch during which you could do some brainstorming and train receive some training, we can make it happen.

You already have what it takes to be a terrific mentor--a willing heart. Now, just start applying constant, gentle pressure and watch the beautiful smiles begin.

One of the best mentoring web sites is Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring. It is an online source for sharing new findings and ideas about youth mentoring.

Want an experience like Patricia's? They are happening every day in schools throughout our community. One hour a week goes a long way. Go here for more information on becoming a mentor in one of Denton's schools.

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