Early last summer, uncertainty was the primary feeling around the Lincoln TeamMates office. Our mentors and mentees had been suddenly separated when schools moved to remote learning several months prior. Many matches were keeping connected via emails through our staff. We were exploring offering Zoom meetings to a handful of matches on a trial basis. We were just starting to navigate what might be possible.
Lincoln schools reopened in the fall with numerous safety protocols. Both public and private schools showed their belief in the power of TeamMates by inviting mentors back into school buildings, the only LPS volunteers granted that privilege. Superintendent Dr. Steve Joel, said, “When we look at our graduation rate, when we look at our student success rate, when we look at our student hope rate, we attribute a lot of that to our community partnerships, none as important as TeamMates.”
Nearly 900 of our mentors masked up for the opportunity to meet with their mentees in person at school each week. Their reunions were joyful. They told us there’s nothing quite like being together even if they have to be six feet apart.
For students who were remote learners and those whose mentors did not feel comfortable mentoring in person, our staff hosted Zoom mentoring every day of every week. We averaged 58 TeamMates matches per day or nearly 300 per week. These matches compared quarantine stories, played online chess, participated in online escape rooms, and most importantly, encouraged one another. For our staff, it was a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of our mentoring relationships in action. We loved watching all of the heartfelt interactions. By the end of the school year, 541 matches had joined 4,101 meetings via Zoom.
As vaccinations became available, we cheered as even more matches were able to resume in-person visits. In total, approximately 12,100 match meetings were held in person this year!
In the uncertain world of COVID-19, the encouragement and support of a mentor is a reliable, stabilizing force. Mentors inspire hope.
We don’t know what the future holds or what next year will look like. But we do know that TeamMates will continue to be there for students!
For more information about this year’s pandemic protocols, please view our 2020-2021 Policies page.