Out of all the skills a person can claim, “listening” may seem insignificant. However, Questscope’s One2One program is proving that a willingness to listen isn’t a small thing - it’s everything.
One2One launched its pilot mentoring program in September, bringing together seventh and eighth graders from North View Junior High with volunteers from North Hennepin Community College. For an hour each week, 28 students and mentors meet to get to know each other through games, activities, and one-on-one discussion time.
The students’ personal challenges vary, but stem mostly from unstable home lives, conflicts at school and difficulty with healthy social interactions. Their mentors are not expected to fix these issues, but rather to listen and care. By being present, asking questions and utilizing community resources, mentors work to empower their students. With the encouragement of a role model who believes in them, we are seeing students begin to process and manage daily obstacles with newfound self-confidence and constructive ways of thinking.
Getting to this point has required the steady building of trust, something not many students were eager to give away at the beginning of the program. However the tentative group from September has taken great strides. Based on mentor feedback, we know that students are choosing to share more about themselves and their lives. Teachers have also noted a positive shift in how students carry themselves on One2One programming days, thanks to the mentors’ presence. Feedback from students illustrates an excitement to see and talk with their mentor each week, and the top response given for what they appreciate most about their mentor is having some listen to them without judgment.
One2One hopes to continue this success next year with plans to grow the program at North View. The expanded program will include around 75 students and mentors, with programming taking place both during and after school. Regardless of structural changes, an integral One2One principle will remain – every student’s voice deserves someone to hear it and affirm its value and importance in the world.