Kaylee and Ashlee

June 2023 TeamMates of the Month: “She’s My Friday!”

When Kaylee met her first mentor at Roper Elementary, she expected to know her for a long time. A year later, a career change for the mentor meant a move and the prospect of starting over for Kaylee, “I was sad when she left. It was kind of weird too because she got to know my friends, but thinking back, I was excited to meet Ashlee. Actually, they looked kind of alike.” 

Ashlee describes their beginning this way, “Kaylee is my first TeamMate. The first and the best. I remember going to her elementary school excited to meet her and get to know her.” 

They were both surprised by how many things they had in common. Tenth-grader Kaylee puts it, “I’ve known her since I was 10. That’s crazy. That’s soooo long. We’re not even related at all. She’s so random, but not to me. We have a lot of things in common. Sometimes I think we are the same person!”

Ashlee agrees, “We are both laid back and don’t take things too seriously, which makes it fun to hang out. I think that is what has made it easy between us too, having similar personalities, sense of humor. It has made it easy to get to know each other.”

Kaylee can’t believe she will graduate in just two years, “It feels like I just graduated from elementary school!” Of course, Ashlee was her mentor then too.

They laugh remembering the cupcake-themed jigsaw puzzle they tackled at North Star, what Ashlee calls “their speed puzzle.” They are a hands-on match, doing crafts, puzzles, coloring, etc. when they are together. That made Covid-19 their greatest challenge. “We had to adapt,” says Ashlee, “but I’m glad we could meet in some form even if it wasn’t what we preferred.”

It isn’t all play. Kaylee has improved her writing skills with Ashlee’s help. “I’m so bad at writing stuff that I turn things in a week late,” Kaylee says, “but she helped me with an essay I had to write and I did soooo good.”

Ashlee is quick to add, “I didn’t help too much.” 

Kaylee elaborates, “She would read it first and ask what it is about, then she would ask me how I want to end it so she can help me in that direction, and then we’d go over what I wrote.” 

And that has helped with her writing assignments going forward, because she keeps the questions Ashlee has asked in her head, “I feel like my conclusions are better because I watched her do it and I do the same thing with my own words.” 

Meeting mid-week as they did this year really made things easier for Kaylee, “If I start off the week “iffy” and then I see you, I’m great.”

Ashlee adds, “I give you a little push to get through the next part.”

“Yeah,” Kaylee agrees, “She’s my Friday.” 

But it’s more than that, it’s a calm that Ashlee brings, one of three words Kaylee chose to describe her, “Her voice makes me feel like I don’t ever have to worry about anything. If the room is hot and she walks in, she cools it down.”

High (and poetic) praise from a mentee who Ashlee says has, “grown up, become more outgoing, comfortable, mature and more confident and driven in her school work.”

In the future, a couple things are on the horizon – they think they will try a service project next school year. They’ve never done one before.

And they think they will stay connected after graduation. As Ashlee puts it, “It would be weird not seeing you every week after this.”

Kaylee adds, “Oh my gosh. That is going to be so sad. I am going to be your age [when you started]! It’s so weird [to think about being a mentor myself]. It would be so fun!”

Maybe Kaylee will have the chance to find out what Ashlee has learned from being a mentor, “You can make such an impact on a person and being able to take time out of your day to focus on somebody else, to invest in them, is really rewarding.”