Our November Mentor of the Month is Ben Johns. Ben is a mentor at Carver Elementary School and is in his 6th year of reading with Everybody! Wins Iowa.
Ben reads to his student, Alejandro, each Tuesday over his lunch break.
“It’s a great break from work,” Ben said. “It’s an hour where you don’t really think about projects that you have going on and it’s just a nice break in the week to say ‘I’m going to do something else and clear my mind’, and at the same time help somebody else.”
Being a mentor has been a valuable experience for Ben. He has gotten to work with different students over the years and has been able to watch his students make strides in the program.
“It’s rewarding both for the student and for the adult,” Ben said. “You can have a student for years and really get to know them and have a friendship with them.”
Over time, his students have gained skills in reading. But, they have also gained something more.
“I can definitely tell that the students have gained a greater sense of confidence,” Ben said. “Sometimes they come in and they’re a little shy or quiet or not really sure what to expect. But once you can build a relationship with them, they get more confident, and you can see them then really start to apply themselves and get better at it.”
Ben added that having a one-to-one relationship between a mentor and a student rather than your typical classroom setting is what helps to make the program so successful.
“I just think it helps to have a friend to work with,” Ben said. “I can understand kids having more issues maybe not feeling a connection or a one-to-one friendship with a teacher. Maybe it’s just more of a personal relationship that makes them a little more confident to try, or a little more attention to help them succeed.”
The program has also helped to build his students enthusiasm about reading.
“I’m excited when my kids come in and they’re smiling and they’re excited to read,” Ben said. “A lot of the kids come through here, and you can tell they’re really motivated and excited. They may not even realize they’re getting better, but they’re excited to read.”
And for any potential mentors out there, Ben has a message for you.
“There’s a lot of kids on the waiting list, and a lot of people I think are hesitant to for the commitment for every week,” Ben said. “But if people knew that the program did allow co-mentors that could share responsibility and come every other week, I think that would be an opportunity for more people to get involved.”
Thank you for your service Ben!