September is right around the corner, and sixth-grader Amadu is looking forward to more than entering seventh grade. He’s also looking forward to seeing Tanner Powers again – his mentor at Harlem Academy for the past two years. “I really like working with him,” says Amadu. “He’s helpful, caring, and a really good person to talk to.” The two have built a close bond – one that benefits the mentor as much as the mentee.
“I wanted a way to give back, and mentoring at Harlem Academy allows me to do that,” says Mr. Powers, a senior financial services advisor at EY and member of our Junior Board. “Being able to see the progress you’re making with a child is pretty cool.”
Mentoring gives volunteers the opportunity to work one-on-one with a student on academics and to connect over conversation and fun activities. Pairs meet once a week throughout the school year.
Mr. Powers and Amadu typically spend their hour-long sessions discussing Amadu’s grades and going over recent quizzes and classwork. “We review anything that I didn’t fully understand, and he gives me helpful feedback on how I can improve,” says Amadu. “He explains what I did wrong on a test and how to do better on the next one. And he lets me take things at my own pace. Mr. Tanner really cares about me, and he’s helped me get my grades up.”
Mr. Powers tailors his approach and his message in order to empower Amadu and bolster his confidence. “Amadu struggles a bit with math. But just because you’re struggling with something doesn’t mean you can’t do it,” he explains. “It just means that you might have to work a little harder and spend more time on it. That’s something that Amadu and I focus on.”
When time allows, the two finish up their session with a fun activity. “We’ll just hang out, talk, and play a game,” says Mr. Powers. “Meeting consistently is nice because Amadu has become more comfortable. We’re able to talk about things in his future, like applying to high schools.”
Amadu believes it’s important for kids his age to have mentors, and Mr. Powers agrees: “Having someone else to talk to about grades besides parents and teachers makes it a little easier for kids. It gives them a safe space to bounce off ideas.”