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Tips for Mentors Visiting Mentees at School

Whether you’re visiting campus for the first time or returning after a long break, we’ve got some tips to make your in-person visits easy and fun!

Save in your phone contacts:

  • Mentor Director’s Cell Number
  • Seedling Office  (512) 323-6371
  • School Office Number
  • School Contact/Helper Number

**Please remember to notify your Mentor Director (MD) and School Contact (SC) in advance if possible if you will not be able to make a meeting. Sometimes it’s possible to switch days for that week or get a note to your mentee. Please do not assume your MD or SC received your message if you don’t reach them. Please keep trying until you reach them.  If you cancel at the last minute, your MD or SC may not be able to get the message to your mentee in time.

Read and Refer to Often:

  • Mentor Guide 
  • Seedling Mentor Minute E-Mail

Before you Visit:

  • Find out your mentee’s lunch schedule and if they have a rotating schedule *Mark your calendar to carve out time for weekly mentoring meetings.
  • Find out about parking (lot, street, side…) If possible, park closest to the front entrance where you see an intercom *in most schools.  Press the intercom button, and a front office assistant will either buzz you in (you will hear the door click/unlock) or the assistant will speak to you.  Identify yourself as a Seedling mentor visiting your mentee.
  • Call the designated person at the school to check for your mentee’s presence/attendance after 10:00 a.m. (Your MD or SC will tell you who to contact.) If you do not call ahead, you may get to the school and find out your mentee is absent.
  • Get a copy of the school calendar (holidays, teacher workdays).
  • Look up/save the school address and map out the time during your mentee’s lunch to see how long the drive will take.
  • Remember to wear school appropriate attire.

**Keep in mind that there is a possibility that even if you call the school to check for attendance, you could get to the school, and find out that your mentee is not there.  Mistakes sometimes happen, and we ask that you’re understanding and flexible. Please talk to your SC and MD if you’re able to reschedule, or let them know you will try again the following week.

Things to Bring:

  • Driver’s License/ID – Some schools ask for this only at the first visit, some ask for it at every visit.  Have it with you just in case.
  • “Getting to Know You” Questions from your Mentor Guide (or online)
  • Paper and pencils or markers for drawing and games
  • Mask (follow the district policies on masking)

Tip: Allow for traffic and time to park. Head to the school early to give time to check in to the office so you don’t cut your visit short.

Ask the Front Office/Ask the School Contact or School Helper

WHO:

  • Introduce yourself to front desk staff.
  • Who is the “back-up” contact person if the SC is not available/absent?

WHAT:

  • If there is a name sticker or badge you need to wear/location of the badge/where to return it at the end of the meeting?
  • Is there a sign-in book or computer for visitors?

WHERE:

  • Where do you pick up/meet your mentee (cafeteria, office, etc.)? 
  • Where are activities/games/books/resources located if available?
  • Where else can you and your mentee go (i.e. playground), and how do you get back in the building/what exit do you use?
  • Where is your meeting room/alternate room if that one is being used (is a key needed)?
  • Where does your mentee go after your meeting/do you take them there? 
  • Where is the adult/visitor restroom and is a key needed?

WHEN:

  • What time do you need to be at the school, and what time do you need to end  your visit so your mentee can get to class on time?

Do...

  • Find out testing dates from your SC/Helper. Visitors are not usually allowed to visit on those days and your mentee may be testing.
  • Communicate regularly with your Mentor Director (MD), respond to phone calls and emails, and tell your MD any concerns, questions, or positive stories. It is part of your MD’s responsibility to know how your match is going, and part of your responsibility to keep your MD in the loop.
  • Your SC can answer questions related to school policies, early-out days/event days that may affect the time of your meetings, and any questions related to what is allowed at the school.  Loop in/CC your MD on those communications.
  • Respond to any emails or calls from Seedling/Alison Preslar.  
  • Attend monthly mentor training (not mandatory, but highly recommended)
  • Notify Alison Preslar or your Mentor Director of any changes to your contact info (email, phone, employer, mailing address).
  • Remember this is a school-based program. Permission is given for on-site visits only. If your mentee invites you to a school event, that is ok.
  • Your role as mentor is that of trusted adult friend and listener, not a fixer, benefactor, or tutor. Small (<$20) gifts are for special occasions only.
  • Try using open-ended questions, but if your mentee is quiet, that’s ok! Remember that it often takes many meetings for your mentee to build trust and to feel comfortable talking. You can also try simply playing card games or drawing together.
  • Let your Mentee Take the Lead:
    • On conversations about holidays they celebrate.
    • On how they want to greet you (wave, fist-bump/elbow bump, secret, hand shake, etc.) Be mindful of our current health situation.
    • On if they want to talk about their parent or not (let them bring it up).
    • On inviting you to attend their extra-curricular school events.
    • On how to spend the meeting (let your mentee have choices regarding if they want to play games, do puzzles, read, draw, talk, etc.).
  • Record your visit hours in the Mentor Portal (your Mentor Director will send you a link). It’s best to do this right after your meeting so you don’t forget.
  • Enjoy your time with your mentee! It’s a very rewarding experience! Remember you ARE making a difference.

Don't...

  • Do not exchange personal contact information with your mentee.
  • Do not connect with your mentee on social media.
  • Mentors are not allowed to transport their mentees anywhere in their vehicles.
  • Confidentiality is extremely important.  Do not share personal information about your mentee, and keep what they say to you private, unless you feel your mentee is being harmed or says something else concerning. Tell your MD and SC in those cases, and if a report to CPS is warranted, you need to report it yourself.
  • Do not post pictures or identifying information of your mentee on your social media. You can talk about your mentoring experience without giving student-specific details (i.e., “I am a Seedling mentor for a 5th grader and I love it!).
  • Do not meet with other students. Meetings with your mentee are 1:1 meetings.  There should be no other students joining your meetings.  Talk to your mentee in the beginning about how the time is special for just the two of you. If other students repeatedly try to join your meetings, you can also ask the School Contact to intervene and talk with the other students.

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