Vann and Brooklynn

April 2024 TeamMates of the Month: Pretty in Pink

Vann remembers her first meeting with her mentee Brooklynn, a stellar student.

“She was wearing pink, because pink is her favorite color and one of mine, so we connected right away. She showed me her locker and all of her gadgets. It was like an apartment.”

Brooklynn laughs, remembering the school where they started meeting.

“I had a little chair. I had a pillow. It was a lot.”

When Brooklynn moved to a new school, Vann watched closely, wanting to make sure Brooklynn didn’t lose her “sparkle”, one of the words Vann chose to describe her energetic mentee.

“I don’t ever want anybody to dull her sparkle. At her old school, you could hear Brooklynn coming down the hall…now, she’s blossomed in a different kind of way. She’s holding her own.”

Excellence is another word Vann chose.

“Brooklynn sets such high standards for herself. She always wants to bring her “A” game. 

That includes choosing a one-of-a kind, iridescent, white cello.

“Everyone always looks at me when we have a performance because ‘what in the world?’”

Brooklynn is clear-eyed about her future and her mentor, Vann, using two words to describe her.

“‘Future’ because that’s who I want to be like when I’m older, and ‘classy’ because she is a pretty woman who does all her stuff right.”

That future will no doubt include acting, music and writing, all passions for Brooklynn. That’s why they’ve been talking about the arts and humanities program, which Brooklynn has applied for. Vann knows she has what it takes.

“This young lady is an amazing writer. She reads her stories to me and puts all the inflections in. If I was not looking at her, I would think an adult had written it.”

The glow of their initial connection lingers for Brooklynn, along with discovering that TeamMates is different than she expected.

“I thought it would be more of a work-based thing, like meeting with a teacher or a therapist. So it has surprised me the way things have turned out. It’s still exciting every time she comes.” 

For Vann, the biggest surprise has been the extent of Brooklynn’s drive.

“I think about when I was an eighth grader, ‘was I that driven?’ She knows what she wants. She knows where she wants to be. I’m trying to get her to realize that sometimes it’s okay just to hang out on the couch and be average.”