Bernie and Rene's story

(Bernie) “‘Tell me a story.’ It’s what we asked our children to do around the dinner table growing up, and what we ask the students we mentor at Reeves Rogers Elementary to do each week. Asking a child to tell you about something happening in their life is an easy way to start a conversation.”

(Rene) “The hard part is listening – without reacting or lecturing – but it’s absolutely necessary. You have to give them the opportunity to express themselves about whatever might be on their minds. It’s essential to building trust and relationships.

(Rene) “Our adult children still tell us stories about their lives, and every student I mentor responds positively to the idea, which opens the door for coaching. One year I mentored E., a shy fifth grade girl who rode the bus to school. She told me someone wrote on a bus seat, and everyone was in trouble for it. E. said she was going to tell the principal she was responsible, even though wasn’t, just so all the students wouldn’t get detention. I asked her if there was something else she might do. E. ended up speaking to the girl who actually wrote on the seat, and that girl confessed to the principal. I was so proud of her for doing something so hard.”

(Bernie) “We ask to mentor students in fifth and sixth grades because we know those are difficult transition years. I’m a retired engineer, and I believe math and reading are very important. But when I go to Reeves Rogers Elementary each week, I’m there for mentoring, not tutoring. I go to listen and help develop the young person’s ability to get along in the world, so they can learn the math and reading and be better prepared for all that life in middle school will throw at them.”

(Bernie) “One year I mentored C., a small guy with a big temper. He had the smarts to do whatever he wanted, but he would snap over the slightest things. At the end of the school year, when he was thinking about moving up to seventh grade, he said, “I going to beat em’ with my brains, not my fists.” I’m not the one who put that exact thought in his head, but I hope the time I spent with him that year helped him be more open to the idea.”

(Rene) “We each mentor an hour a week during the school year, and, in the summer, we go listen to children read at the Project Transformation day camps. We have great deal of respect for teachers who work with so many students all day, every day, and the college interns at Project Transformation who plan and lead the programs.”

(Bernie) “Mentoring and reading with children are extensions of our faith. We encourage everyone to consider serving with one of these ministries. Every child matters. And, who doesn’t like to hear a good story?”