Fall Kickoff

The annual Fall Kickoff is a fun and exciting event for mentors and potential mentors to prepare for a new school year of mentoring. This event features an inspiring presentation and informational breakout sessions to enhance mentoring relationships.


Fall Kickoff 2020: You Matter

About 100 Lincoln TeamMates mentors gathered virtually on August 18, 2020 to celebrate the impact of mentoring on the lives of Lincoln youth. Who better to tell the story than four outstanding TeamMates graduates?

A keynote speech by Elijah Riley gave authentic voice to how having a TeamMates mentor helped him navigate high school and set a course for life after graduation including a major in Fisheries and Wildlife Management at UNL with a minor in Criminal Law to enable a future career as a Conservation Officer or a Game Warden. In Riley’s words, “You guys touch and change more lives than you will ever know, and I know I am not the only one that feels like this.”

Thoughtful (and sometimes humorous) responses of invited mentee panelists reminded attendees that every match in TeamMates rests on commitment, trust and willingness to grow together. Several panelists mentioned their initial assumptions of their mentor being overturned in the best ways.

Jenna Fuller described her mentor Kathi being there for her after she lost her hearing in 3rd grade and again when a car accident derailed a semester in high school. Fuller said that when the match had to close at the start of her junior year, “I felt like I wouldn’t be able to get that type of relationship again.” She met her new mentor (Kathy with a “y”) a few months later and realized, “Whoa! I can have that relationship again!”

Brandon May, a self-described “shy person who was not very confident,” said, “Michael really helped me see myself better…he helped me see what a strong person I am in all aspects of my life, and helped me learn my own limits too.”

Johanna Sweeney learned how to push through the frustrations of high school, “Meghan showed me it’s okay to be upset about stuff but if you keep yourself negative, it’s just going to keep pulling you down. You have to push through it. I didn’t know I could do that.”

Fall Kickoff also serves as a celebration of the commitment of matches during the previous school year. Research shows that matches who meet consistently result in positive outcomes for both the mentor and the student. Matches who met 16 or more times during the 2019-2020 school year were invited to join the TeamMates 2019-2020 Sweet 16 Club. Congratulations to those matches!

The evening also featured inspirational messages of thanks and encouragement from Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Steve Joel and LPS Supervisor of Counseling and School Social Work, Brenda Leggiadro.

TeamMates matches will meet in some new ways this fall, some via Zoom from school, some via Zoom from home. Most will meet in person. Protocols for fall 2020 meetings can be found here. No matter how they meet, the word cloud that participants built at the end of Fall Kickoff told how they feel about it: EXCITED!


View the entire evening by watching the video below.

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