Mentor System – A Sweet Retrospection

The population is expanding and in many underdeveloped areas of the United States good citizens, who are underprivileged, are sinking into the woodwork due to lack of knowing how to read, write and the basics of life to keep them functioning in our society. Therefore, a teacher’s work is highly significant.

When I was growing up I had access to good teachers. Ones who would lay their life on the line for me were always within my reach. My mother was poor and since she was the only one who was supporting us during our grade school and teenage years, we were eligible for the food stamp program. The unpleasant powdered eggs were hard to choke down, and powdered milk seemed to sink my cheerios like the Titanic in my bowl full of water. Nevertheless, my teachers, Mr. Hennebeck (Social Studies), Mrs. Berg (Physical Education), Mrs. Hinkle (Music), and Mrs. Ashworth (English), kept my spirits afloat. Mr. Hennebeck and Mrs. Berg gave me a shoulder to lean on when I was getting kicked out of the house as a teenager and Mrs. Hinkle channeled her love and faith in me as I became the dance choreographer for our school’s operetta, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Mrs. Ashworth assigned me to give a speech on The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams which was a parallel to my life and helped me grow in self-confidence as I overcame my fear of giving speeches.

Even though I had low self-esteem from the abuse I took from my parents as a teenager, and the societal pressures were intense and hard to take, I still remained in school and escaped the possibility of being a high school dropout. I suffered more than most people, with a bout of polio in my legs at age 2, and a bout of polio in my back at age 7. Peers would call me a “fake” and a bully would envy me. Yet, my mother, who was a nurturing parent the first four years of my life, had enrolled me in ballet, roller skating, and swimming to get stronger. I learned to forgive, share, and give through competition and became athletic. I was a cheerleader through middle school and into high school.

My four teachers worked on my abilities and talent and gave me strength to continue studying, reading and writing and to succeed with honors in school. With my education I became devoted to life. I was willing to give up every single thing that I had ever imagined or dreamed of to become a teacher. There were so many individuals out in the world who missed out on a good education and not fortunate enough to get one. I felt compassion for them and an eagerness to help them make their steps into the world. As a result, I became a preschool teacher.

I can remember at night, I would place an open preschool book over my head so the information would seep into my consciousness, and I could remember the lyrics to songs and recite sequences of words in a sentence. I also would stand on my head in the living room so that blood would rush to my head, and I could concentrate better. I learned to prioritize my activities for what I wanted for the students and me. Teaching children to read, helping them to learn and find their own identity ranked high on my list of things to do.

In life, everything is possible. You can prevail even when the pressures of society are so strong that there doesn’t seem to be an answer for anything. There will always be someone to pick you up and take the lead. I met a doctor who became my mentor and took the lead in my later years. When he wasn’t acting in the theater he was there at my beckon call. He prescribed the right drugs for my mood swings, paranoia, and depression and adjusted them when needed. Our relationship became unique and I had complete trust in him. My goals were achieved by expressing my views to him and getting feedback. He listened to me.

In this world of despair, poverty, and disability, mentorship works. Giving out ideas to another person and getting knowledge back, is a respectable exchange in any occupation. If we all have a commitment to help one another no matter what the circumstance, then there is no limit what we can do.

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