Joyce and Ariana

October 2016 TeamMates of the Month: Fostering Creativity Through Their TeamMates Relationship

“It is so important to have a mentor,” Joyce said. “I made sure my children had mentors. It is important to have affirmation from outside your immediate family.” Ariana was in the third grade when she was matched with Joyce and they began their TeamMates mentoring relationship. She is currently a freshman in high school.

Ariana said her favorite part about being in the TeamMates program is having someone to talk to. “She helps me by giving me advice to get through things.”

Joyce said she delights in helping her TeamMates mentee discover her passions and natural abilities. She likes to offer a range of opportunities. During their meetings, they have explored arts and writing. They have learned that they both enjoy painting and especially like using watercolor. While they paint, they talk. Their conversations focus on feelings about what is going on in school and Ariana’s life. They talk about issues such as facing being an adult. Sometimes they will use conversation starters such as beginning a sentence that the other person finishes by filling in the rest of the story. For example, ‘It is the first day of high school and …..’ “I’ve kept a diary or journal of our stories,” Joyce said.

One of her objectives, Joyce said, is to try to help her TeamMates with interactions with friends. She and Ariana have discussed possibilities of how to respond to friends when things get heated. “I am a good friend,” Ariana said. “Sometimes I can be over protective.” Being TeamMates with Joyce has helped her to learn how to be a good friend without being aggressive. She worries about some her friends who seem to have boyfriends who are mean. To counteract, Ariana said, “we formed a ‘squad of friends’ and we made an emblem to represent our friendship.”

Ariana said being TeamMates with Joyce has increased her self-confidence. “TeamMates is a great way to help me take more risks and gain the confidence to do things I wouldn’t normally do.”

Before, Ariana said, she wasn’t very confident and, for example, not planning to try out for basketball.  “I’m now more confident.”

Joyce said she remembers how self-conscientious middle school students can be. “We work on taking on that ‘moment of hesitation.’”

Ariana credits Joyce with helping her improve academically. “If I have a low grade we try to get my grades up.” Ariana knows grades are important to her being able to achieve her goals for her future. She wants to be a successful adult and be able to financially take of her family. “I would like to be a makeup artist,” Ariana said, citing that some makeup artists make and sell their own brands of makeup.

“I love what she does with her hair,” Joyce said.  “She is so creative with her hair.  She’s got great style.”

Ariana said she also likes to cook and bake cakes.  “My favorite cake is a red velvet. My plan after high school is to be both a chef and a makeup artist.” She is very interested in attending the Career Academy later, but for now she is focused enjoying the new experience of being in 9th grade and attending high school.