Students Appreciate Mentors from Spring Woods UMC
When students experienced the trauma of a stabbing on campus at Spring High School, they had the listening ear of mentors from community partners at Spring Woods UMC.
It’s been said that love is a four letter word that begins with a ”T” for time. Leonard Schwantes along with other men of Spring Woods UMC, Spring have been mentoring male students for the last five years. “We love providing these young people a chance to open up with someone other than a teacher or parent,” he shares. “Many don’t have a true father figure or happy family life, so we are primarily their encouragers and listeners.” Leonard’s wife, Sue Ann has recently helped expand the ministry to female students.
Volunteers are a major part of the Spring ISD School-Community Partnership program. School volunteers provide time and talent to target student success. Adds Leonard, “We visit Westfield High School and Dekaney High School once a month to talk about the importance of education, setting a goal and working to accomplish it, learning technical social skills, respect for others and self confidence. After a brief all-group introduction, we break out into small groups for discussion about things or issues that are most important to them.”
Topics can be intensely personal as well. This year, mentors were particularly instrumental. Adds Leonard, “The guys have talked through such things as the recent stabbing death of their close friend on campus and the struggle to calm down peer feelings in the aftermath. Another needed to talk through the anger felt by someone whose wallet was stolen which led to the desire for revenge. One of the men in our group was able to guide a young man involved in witchcraft into a better lifestyle, due to the student’s respect and friendship with him.
In the fall of 2014, several of the women at Spring Woods UMC began a mentoring program for the young ladies at Westfield High School. Leonard shares that the reception and response to the ladies has been very good and planning is underway for 2015 activities. He adds, “The school counselor tells our mentors how much they are needed.”
The Spring High School volunteer training shares these tips for working with students:
• Be enthusiastic; it’s contagious.
• Use their names.
• Be willing to say, “I don’t know.”
• Listen to what they have to say.
• Use praise specifically and try to catch them doing things well.
• Try to evoke problem-solving skills; don’t simply provide answers.
• Be honest and don’t make promises that can’t be kept.
• Encourage good behavior but refer problems to the teacher.
• Be patient.
• Be respectful of differences and understand that students deserve to be
treated with respect.
• Look for and focus on the strengths in each student.
Leonard shares, “What a great way to spend an hour.”