Justin and Rusty

October 2020 TeamMates of the Month: Listening and Understanding

Rusty is a seventh grader who excels at drawing, enjoys playing video games and reads science fiction. Justin is a father of two, works in aviation sales, and loves sports. On paper, they don’t have a whole lot in common. But over the past three years, they have become the closest of friends through the TeamMates program.

“We’re both communicators and we both like to talk,” explains Justin. “We can both talk non-stop when we get going.”

Typically, TeamMates are paired together based upon shared interests. For some, personality is the primary commonality. Justin believes the school facilitator who matched them saw an opportunity to bring together two talkers. “That’s why we hit it off,” Justin confirms. “Our interests are completely opposite and I think that’s what makes us a good crew, believe it or not, because I enjoy learning about what Rusty brings to the table.”

Rusty admits that although they can chat about anything now,  he didn’t always know what to talk about with his new mentor. “I was kind of nervous about ‘What do I say? What do I do?’ so I just got a pencil and paper and started drawing,” he explains. 

Rusty’s drawings are impressive, says Justin. “They went on my fridge for a lot of years alongside my son’s stuff.” Together, Rusty and Justin have made use of Schoo’s 3D printer. “The stuff he would design was pretty incredible,” Justin shares.

Although they currently meet via Zoom, favorite activities also include Stratego and Uno. “Whenever me and my friends are playing a game, we usually just talk about the video games we play, but when I play games with Justin it’s just this bond between me and him.” It’s a bond he finds difficult to describe, affirming Justin is simply his best friend. 

Although Justin is the mentor, Rusty is a friend and a teacher to him as well. “I learn a lot from him by listening and understanding what kids are going through, their daily battles and their interests,” explains Justin. “He’s a teacher to me in a lot of ways, of understanding other ways of going through life,” he continues. “But 100 percent a friendship.”