I recently viewed a tree removal in Pendleton that prompted me to wonder how long such a large tree had been present. It was a solemn process and I was struggling for a way to understand the good in it. I was reminded that a crosscut section gives the ability to see and therefore read the life of the tree across the years. Exposure to the inside structure reveals an intricate and unique pattern with clues to the life and times it knew.
Being able to see variation and uniqueness in the growth patterns laid bare by the crosscut of this tree made me reflect on how we measure growth in other contexts: how variables act on (and in) our own human experience. How would this past year of struggle be read by future audiences? And how would our tales of struggle or growth manifest and be understood by future generations?
That’s when it hit me that mentoring operates in a similar space of growth affected by environment….patterns formed in direct response to inputs specific to a particular combination of factors: obviously not the same set for trees and mentees, yet operating in similar ways. For trees we look to contributions like soil and weather. We can readily accept these factors would change the amount of growth marked in the tree “ring” that represents the growth for that year.
Apply this model to mentoring and consider the role of mentor as a contributor to growth where, say, encouragement or empathy impacted the growth of their mentee for that year. Parents and other family of course play a vital role in the growth of the mentee, but there is reason to believe that additional support from other well placed adults can help a student thrive.
Together we can make 2021 the right environment for our mentees to experience a remarkable year of growth! For more on how to encourage the vigorous growth cycles that Impact Mentoring is striving for with our mentees, please contact us.
-Suzanne Church, AmeriCorps VISTA Mentor Coordinator