It began with humor and the connection with every student and colleague. Mr. Greg Lenn is an amazing teacher, father, husband, colleague, friend, and mentor. For over 20 years, Greg has given back to many people in his role as second grade teacher at Malone Elementary School in Prescott, Wisconsin. This past school year he chose to enter a new arena as Dean of Students in our elementary school that became a K-2 building after being a K-5 building for many years. This left me with some concerns about being the only male teacher in our building this year. However, even though Greg’s role changed, he continues to serve as a mentor to me. We still begin our days together as I stop into his office early mornings to discuss various topics such as modifications to student behavior or ways to handle difficult parent conversations properly and respectfully. Whether our conversations are school related or not, they always connect back to teaching. Greg is a great role model and mentor because he is kind, dedicated, reliable, and approachable. He is willing to listen and not be afraid to let you know if he doesn’t have the answer at the time of your question. Greg consistently follows up to share his findings.
Mr. Lenn initiated a Mentoring program in Prescott five years ago. It is a beneficial program that had me hooked immediately. I enjoy listening to his caring voice talk about how we can help new teachers. When new teachers enter our building, they are provided with a mentor within their grade level. In my first year as a mentor, I often felt like I was new to the profession because mentoring allowed me to obtain new and creative ideas from the other amazing teachers I was working with. One thing personally that I have learned from being a mentor is that it is advantageous to utilize and share the plentiful resources that colleagues in your building and district are using. This is true team building!
The mentorship program in our district has designated a consistent meeting time once a month for all mentors and mentees to come together. During this time, we discuss questions or concerns we are facing. This past year, I was chosen by the administration, to be a mentor for one of the new teachers. This mentorship program allows mentors to work together with a new teacher, to build a strong and sturdy foundation for success during their first years in our district. Mentors as defined by the district are individuals who provide guidance and support.
Prior to the mentorship program, I was fortunate to have many great role models within our school. I relied on them for advice, guidance, and support as I started my first years of teaching. Together, we established an open-door policy which created security within our team. Recently, I met with a few team members to thank them for taking me under their wing and laying a solid educational foundation of what a mentor’s role is and that has assisted me in my personal role as mentee. This past year, as a senior teacher in 1st grade I found that others were coming to me for advice, ideas, and questions. It is an honor to be working with and collaborating with my current colleagues.
My advice for colleagues is to take time to find those teachers within your school building or district that can be a great mentor to you. It is important to listen carefully to one another and work together to improve overall teaching techniques and strategies. I will never forget the discussions I have had with my mentors over the years. These stepping stones helped guide me down the path I am on today.
Finally, a note of thanks to all of you for teaching young students. We as teachers are a very important part of their lives as are the mentors we work with who are in YOUR building.
[MenTeach: You can read about Corey Morning here.]