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National Mentoring Month: The Importance of Mentors in Adult Education

27 January 2016
Features

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” -Phil Collins

Oftentimes mentoring is perceived as a one-way benefit, where the mentee gains valuable knowledge from the more experienced mentor. But how is being a mentor mutually beneficial?  As we continue to celebrate National Mentoring Month, we asked Peirce College advisor and MCOL Tutor, Sonia Lewis, to share why she thinks mentoring is important.

Helping non-traditional and adult learners meet their goals is a passion that extends outside of her role at the college. For the last four months, Sonia has volunteered her talents as a literacy tutor for Ready, Willing & Able – Philadelphia, an organization that provides critical support services to Philadelphians in need.

The Mayor’s Commission on Literacy:  Why did you decide to become a mentor?

Sonial Lewis: Becoming a mentor through tutoring has been such a rewarding opportunity for me.  I decided to become a tutor because I live by the mantra, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” When I signed up to become an adult literacy tutor, it was to assist in closing the literacy gap that the citizens of Philadelphia face. As a tutor, I am able to be a part of that change. I’ve become a mentor for many of my students, as a result of the time spent teaching and encouraging my learners. Our tutoring sessions are not just about academics, they’re about life lessons and providing the opportunity for us to learn from one another and respect one another’s perspective.

MCOL: What expectations do you have of your mentee?

SL: At the beginning of each semester, I set the standards and expectations for learning. I review what the expectations of the mentee are and what they can expect from me, as their mentor.  I also begin each mentoring session with reviewing their schedule for the week and discuss how they plan to incorporate study time after our reading session. I believe planning is essential to the learning process. It is important for each of the guys within our class to display good teamwork, effort, and a positive attitude so that learning can occur.

MCOL:  What would you tell other volunteers interested in becoming mentors?

SL:  My advice to future mentors and tutors would be to develop plans of success for themselves and their learner. With structure, guidance, and compassion, those that you set out to help learn, will learn. As a volunteer, we are in a unique position to help.  People are trusting us with their education and their time. It is our job to use our resources wisely and efficiently. If more people answer the call of being a volunteer, our city will elevate in stature and our communities will be filled with thinkers and do-ers. By volunteering just one hour out of the 168 hours in a week, volunteers give others permission to reach their potential and live in their purpose.

Learn more about The Mayor’s Commission on Literacy mentoring opportunities here.

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