Jennifer and Maria

August 2016 TeamMates of the Month: Envision a Bright and Successful Future

Jennifer TerMaat and Maria are about to begin the 4th year of their mentoring relationship. Maria remembers that they started meeting while she was in 5th grade, right before her birthday. She had learned about TeamMates from the school counselor. She also recalled that she and her new mentor started meeting the next week after she signed up.

Jennifer learned about the program through her employer, Nelnet. Nelnet is a big supporter of TeamMates, she said, and many of her co-workers are also involved. She said she enjoys spending time with kids, so she took the opportunity to become a TeamMates mentor.

Jennifer explained that she and Maria were matched within a record time because Jennifer had mentored another student the previous year. Since that match had closed, she was able to start meeting with Maria right away.

Jennifer appreciates many aspects of the TeamMates Program, but she continues to be engaged because of the importance of her relationship with her TeamMate.

During their meeting time they enjoy talking about many things. They like to read and also like to talk about books. They also play games, like UNO, and discuss grades and how Maria can approach and talk to her teachers in a constructive way. They discuss goals, where Maria might go to high school and what kinds of activities she needs to do to get there.

Maria will attend High School in combination with the Arts and Humanities school. She has liked art class at school, however she also likes other media, such pottery. “So I’m looking forward to that next year.”

Maria said Jennifer taught her how to set goals and helped her to get accepted into the Arts and Humanities school. “She has helped me with my grades. I like to draw,” Maria said. She also likes other creative channels. “I like to write. I want to be a writer or a voice actor, like voicing over for cartoons. I want to get into drama, which would help with my speaking.” She has also enjoyed the times she and Jennifer have spent crafting. “We sometimes do crafts for the holidays. Last year we made Easter eggs and a gingerbread house.”

Maria credits being a part of TeamMates and her relationship with Jennifer with helping her have better grades and building relationships. She finds it easier to get to know people.

Jennifer added, “Hopefully we have built a stable relationship.”

“Having a TeamMate is really fun,” Maria said. “They can help you with a lot of things, like grades, goals and personal issues.”

Jennifer said they are also discussing how to get to college and all the resources that are available. “In the next couple of years we will be working on that.”

College is on Maria’s agenda and she is considering Nebraska Wesleyan University to continue her arts and humanities education.

Being TeamMates offers “a chance to share a part of my life and offer information to Maria.”

Jennifer is concerned that prospective mentors might think that being a mentor takes a lot of time. “But you make it work. I come first thing in the morning, which works for me. It’s good for Maria to help her understand if things come up, I have things that I need to take care of. I hope to teach her how a woman balances her life with family and her work. But, you can still be with your TeamMate.”

“It’s been great having Jennifer as a TeamMate,” Maria said.