Mike and Tyler

August 2019 TeamMates of the Month: Common Ground

Mike and Tyler sit shoulder to shoulder. They haven’t seen each other all summer, and they are excited for their reunion.

Tyler has been surprised by the similarities he shares with his TeamMate, Mike. “In TeamMates you get to meet a new person, have a new friendship and a fun time. I’m surprised about how much my mentor and I have in common,” he says.

Their match began at St. Teresa Catholic Elementary when Tyler was in sixth grade and continues at Pius X High School. Like Tyler, Mike attended Pius. Tyler interacts daily with many of the same teachers and participates in some of the activities Mike experienced as a student. In addition, they both enjoy playing games, spreading kindness, and joking around.

A father of six and former supervisor of students in the Boys’ Town family home program, Mike understands the benefits of mentoring. “If you look at the research, there’s proof that mentoring works.” As a Nelnet employee, he enjoys job flexibility conducive to his weekly mentoring commitment. “It’s worth investing in a one-to-one relationship,” Mike says.

Mike and Tyler began to share their lives over chess, checkers, and cards. Mike praises his mentee for the growth he’s witnessed over their four years together. “Tyler’s ability to adapt to situations has improved, he’s shown academic success, and his perceptions of others have deepened.” 

As Tyler begins his sophomore year, he recognizes Mike’s role in his success. “Mike has helped me get out of my comfort zone. He’s taught me how to be positive and outgoing, how to make new friends, and the value of hanging out with good people.”

Tyler also knows Mike’s support will affect his future. “I have a dream to work in law enforcement or as an engineer. We’ll see what happens over the next few years,” he says, glancing at his mentor for affirmation.

Both mentor and mentee seem to enjoy checking in with each other. “Mike always asks how things are going.  He pushes me to do well academically and is supporting me as I apply for a job.

Moments of influence surface. One day the two were playing cards in the hallway at St. Teresa Catholic Elementary School.  Occasionally, a teacher would walk by, and Mike would say, “Ah, Tyler, here is your favorite teacher.” Each instructor who passed was greeted with the same line, much to Tyler’s delight. “He talked to all the teachers and helped me to know them better.”

Both Tyler and Mike agree that their relationship will continue indefinitely after graduation.  “We’ll keep in contact. We will probably go golfing,” Tyler announces, a grin on his face. 

The smile is reflected on the face of his mentor. “TeamMates is a great opportunity to invest in a relationship.”