November 2021 TeamMates of the Month: A Connection Built to Last
Lincoln Northeast senior Allie will graduate next month, completing a journey she has traveled with her TeamMate Kayla for the past nine years. Their near-decade of weekly visits has built “a lot of trust,” says Allie, “Trust and learning that relationships aren’t going to come and go, they are going to last.”
Kayla explains she did not do anything specific to earn Allie’s confidence besides respect her privacy. “I would ask questions about her day or her week. I left it up to her to talk to me about what she wanted to, versus prying and asking a lot of personal questions,” she remembers. “Which I think got us to where we’re at today, letting her share what she wants to share.”
When they were initially matched at Humann Elementary, they chose activities to guide their visits naturally. “Because of her age, she was quiet and a little shy,” recalls Kayla. “When we first started, Allie really loved to do crafts and activities, so I’d bring something every week for us to do together.” At Pound Middle School, they enjoyed mancala, cards, and ping pong. “Once she got into high school, it was more just sitting in the media center talking, and we got away from the games and stuff at that point.”
“It’s something I wait for throughout the week, like ‘It’s not Wednesday yet, it’s not Wednesday yet,” says Allie, who attributes her expanded maturity to enabling more dialogue between them. “And trusting and opening up more,” adds Kayla, “I count on the meetings every week just as much as she does, I think.”
“We had to build our connection and learn to trust and know the things we could open up about,” says Allie. Allie finds Kayla’s understanding and supportive nature has assured her over the years, and even recently when she experienced a challenge at work. “We had talked about what to do and what not to do,” remembers Allie.
She finds Kayla’s input guides her without imposing. “She’s not like, ‘do this and don’t do this.’ More like, ‘I’d recommend doing this, but it’s your choice of what you feel like you should do,” which Allie finds empowering.
Kayla adds, “I want her to know she’s able to stand up for herself and to help her learn she has those strengths.”
“I took the advice,” Allie says, “and it actually ended up helping me a lot and it worked out very well.”
Soon, Allie will begin studying at Southeast Community College in pursuit of a career in computer science. Allie and Kayla are looking forward to being able to keep in touch outside of a school building and grabbing lunch when their match closes after graduation.
Kayla is excited to see Allie continue to grow. “I think when she finds the classes that really interest her, she will stay self-motivated, and I think she will do great and find the career choice she wants,” says Kayla, “I’m excited to see what she finds to do that’s the right fit for her.”