Derek Folden’s consistency during his seven years as an Everybody Wins! Iowa reading mentor has been the key to earning him a spot as our February mentor of the month.
Derek currently reads over the noon hour on Wednesdays at Edmunds Elementary with a third grade girl. His student can sometimes be shy, but there’s no doubt that Derek has seen improvements in her confidence and reading ability since the two started reading together.
Studies have shown that having a consistent presence from an adult and forming a close relationship with them is one of the most important factors for positive and healthy development.
“Students might not ask for it, but they do appreciate it in the long run,” Derek said.
Derek’s very first student he was assigned to had gone through several other mentors before he was finally paired with Derek. The student hardly said a word to Derek during their first few weeks of reading together.
“I think maybe he thought that I was going to leave,” Derek said.
But, over time, the student gradually started opening up to Derek as he started to get more comfortable.
“After it became a situation where we were comfortable with each other, he was very intelligent,” Derek said. “And he was very open to reading and talking about things in general.”
It was then that Derek realized how important it was to stick with the commitment of being at program each week with your student. He said it’s especially important for kids who don’t have an adult in their lives that are able to read or talk to their kids on a daily basis.
“A lot of these kids have parents who are working two or three jobs and may not have time,” Derek said. “So it’s nice to be able to give a lunch once a week and spend some time with a student.”
Although Derek has two kids of his own at home that he also frequently reads to, he says that being a mentor to a student is different than being a parent.
“This is more of being there, and whatever they want to talk about or do or read, you can spend that time however they want to spend it,” Derek said.
Thanks for being an awesome mentor, Derek!
Want to make a difference like Derek? Check out some ways you can get involved with Everybody Wins! Iowa today: https://everybodywinsiowa.org/get-involved/