“Anyone Can Be a Mentor”

By Communication and Community Relations
January 26, 2023

January is National Mentoring Month. All it takes is one person to serve as a trusted adult to help change a young person’s path in life. Yet one in three children lack a mentor. Mentors provide attention, support, and enrichment, and help connect their mentees to resources that may help them on their journey in life. 

Many FCPS employees participate in MentorWorks by connecting with students for at least 30 minutes a week in schools near where they work. Have you considered the impact you could make by mentoring? Read the following feedback for some inspiration. 

Sandy Vigen and her mentee meet in a librarySandy Vigen works in the School Improvement and Supports office at Willow Oaks as an executive administrative assistant. When she first came to Willow Oaks, a colleague was serving as a mentor at Graham Road Elementary School and invited her to serve as a mentor as well. 

Before her first mentor session, Sandy was afraid they’d have nothing to talk about. “I didn’t know anything about my mentee except her name,” she says. “We quickly worked through that, however. It seems that whenever we meet, we talk nonstop for an hour.”

Sandy has met with her mentee, who is now in seventh grade, from the time she was in the first grade. Over the years they have moved from playing games and doing puzzles to reading books and talking about middle school. 

Sandy would encourage others to mentor because, “It only takes a few hours a month and you can really make a difference. I just want people to know that you don’t have to work in a school or be a teacher to be a mentor. Anyone can be a mentor.”

Jay Corwin stands with a school busJay Corwin is a bus driver who took a student with special needs under his wing. The student barely speaks to adults, but has bonded with Jay. Jay would visit the student’s school once a week for an hour to play games and draw pictures. “He liked to write me notes as well,” Jay says. “That was our form of communication.”

Jay’s favorite experience as a mentor is simply seeing his student-friend so happy. And to know that he was making a difference for him. 

“I absolutely love helping people,” Jay says. “Before I joined FCPS I was a Fairfax County firefighter for 30 years where I got to help people everyday. When I became a bus driver I saw that I could continue to help people, and it’s for that reason I was excited to become a mentor.”

Laura Cook (pictured above) is a school social worker. Once a week she visits another school before her work day begins so she can volunteer as a mentor. When she became a mentor, school was still virtual and she was concerned how to mentor online. The school counselor had created some virtual games to help the mentoring process run more smoothly. 

Now that they’re finally meeting in person, Laura has enjoyed playing games like Uno with her mentee. “I don’t think I’ve ever won a game with him, but I’m getting better,” she says. “My mentee knows a lot of fun facts about his favorite subjects, so I’ve learned a lot from him.”

Laura has enjoyed watching her mentee grow and change over the years. “I love having the opportunity to have an ongoing relationship with a student. It’s a nice reminder for me that the small successes I see with my younger students add up over time as students get older and move on to middle and high school.”   

Laura encourages school staff to consider mentoring to have a different kind of relationship with students. “I love getting to be my mentee’s friend and cheerleader. Even during my busiest weeks, when it’s difficult to get out the door early in the morning, spending time with my mentee is consistently one of the highlights of my week.” 

Learn more about how to become a mentor for an FCPS student. Please contact Martha Macdonald, mentoring specialist, for additional information at [email protected].