Written By: Hans Appel
“When the student is ready
the teacher will appear”
Mentorship is the guidance provided by a mentor, especially an experienced person in a company or educational institution. We typically associate mentees in schools as interns and/or practicum students. The underlying implied outcome is that the intern benefits from the mentors wisdom.
This is only part of the story. While being an effective mentor takes time, patience, and a dedicated willingness to examine one’s practices, the outcomes for the mentor are equally rich.
When I decided to take on a counseling intern, a few years ago, I had no idea that I’d grow as much or more than my intern. Thus, I’ve created a new working definition of mentorship:
Educational mentorship is a mutually beneficial endeavor that promotes growth, insight and learning for BOTH parties.
As I enjoyed breakfast last Saturday with my former intern, it dawned on me, just how educationally meaningful this experience had been for me. As Nate and I caught up on his recent attendance at a national educational conference and debriefed both last year and his plan for this next year...I realized how far both of us had come.
Having an intern forces one to take a deep dive into relooking at everything you do. With fresh, open eyes, interns can often unintentionally cast a light on outdated procedures, program, and/or policies. Their very presence initiates the kind of necessary introspection that often gets pushed to the side, in favor of mandates, routines, and requirements.
While my takeaways from my time with Nate were plentiful one has really stood out. In the spring of Nate’s 2nd year of a 3-year internship, he approached me about doing a survey of all our stakeholders. He wanted to create a way for us to gain some feedback from parents, students, and staff about our counseling program. I liked the idea and believed we were overdue to take our school’s temperature on the effectiveness of our counseling program. We spent time crafting questions, put it out to folks and then began to sift through the data.
Overall, we had very positive results! Getting a great response was very reaffirming to what we were doing. However, in one category we got absolutely destroyed. The data was very clear on this part of the survey; people did not feel we successfully communicated about our counseling program and the happenings around the school. I remember feeling a little like I’d been punched in the gut. It was as if people said to us ‘we love what your doing but we don’t always know what your doing.’ As Nate and I reviewed the results and attempted to make sense of how everything could be so positive and yet have this one giant black eye on the entire program, Nate said something profound to me.
“I think there’s a shroud of mystery that inherently surrounds counseling, ”
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.