Michal and Mike

October 2021 TeamMates of the Month: Someone I Can Trust and Respect

It doesn’t feel like you’re in a school building when you’re in the TeamMates room at Moore Middle School. Moore’s TeamMates facilitator, Bob Ruisinger, has assembled the ultimate lounge where matches can choose from ping-pong, foosball, arcade-style basketball and even a miniature pool table. 

On Thursday mornings, you’ll find eighth-grader Michal and his TeamMate Mike duelling over ping-pong. However, their love of games comes in fourth on Michal’s list of their commonalities– “One, we wear hearing aids. Two, we have the same name. Three, we agree on different things.”  

Michal and Mike first met in 2017 at Pyrtle Elementary. Michal recalls feeling a little confused as to what they were going to do in their weekly meetings initially. Pretty quickly though, “he was raring and ready to go,” says Mike. 

The pair have had no challenge in finding activity ideas. They invented a tennis ball wall-toss game, played basketball and floor hockey in the gym, put together puzzles, and even completed a volcano kit. Occasionally, they’ll go with classic board games like checkers and chess. When the pandemic school closure caused them to switch to Zoom, Michal created a modified checkers game he could screen-share and operate. 

Conversation topics vary as much as their activity choices, but one unique subject they have enjoyed exploring is weather systems. Michal loves the Storm Chasers docuseries and has watched all five seasons three separate times. “I really got a kick out of it,” he says.

With the help of TeamMates, Mike was able to refer Michal and his mother to contact a previous coworker of his who now heads Lancaster County’s Emergency Management for a tour to see various weather systems. “That was an awesome opportunity,” Michal recalls.

Mike envies his mentee’s knowledge of weather, science, and math, but also commends Michal’s personal characteristics. “I’m always there for someone if they need help,” Michal explains. 

“I’ve seen him in action,” confirms Mike. “Once, somebody dropped their books in the hallway. He ran right over and helped them pick everything up.” 

Michal appreciates his mentor highlighting his strengths. “He gives me confidence and appreciation,” Michal says, which he finds helps him maintain a positive attitude throughout the school day. 

They agree they are both generally optimistic people and always look forward to their joyful visits. “When you see a kid running down the hallway when he knows that you just got there, it lights up your day,” says Mike.

“It’s a whole period to get out of class to do something fun,” jokes Michal, adding sincerely, “and I’m with someone I can trust and respect.”

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