I worked with TeamMates Mentoring at Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) shortly after Tom Osborne and his wife created the program in the early 90s. As a principal, I loved greeting the mentors because I knew how much the relationship meant to our students. The closer I got to retirement, I knew being a mentor with TeamMates was something I wanted to do with my free time.

First Steps into Mentoring

I contacted the TeamMate’s office and inquired about the organization and weekly requirements. The staff member who helped me was the wife of a fellow LPS administrator. She was excited about my participation in the program and answered all my questions. She called two days later and asked if I was interested in helping them out with a young boy who went to one of our feeder schools. After getting the okay from my superiors, I told her yes.

Building Trust with My First TeamMate

The young boy’s mother had just gone to prison, and he and his siblings were going to a foster home. Both the foster parents and the principal of the elementary school were hopeful I could help with the transition. I was ready. At least I thought so.

The first several months were hectic and rather disorganized. This young boy was very active and OCD. I soon realized my role was to give the teacher some time for him to blow off some steam. We met in a small room near the library and frequently drew on the white board. Playing organized games or reading were not yet part of our session. After some time, he became less agitated and followed directions. He obtained skills with his behavior and was a joy to work with. We were TeamMates for several years before the family moved away.

Mentoring a Bright & Independent Young Woman

When I connected with my next TeamMate, I had already retired so it was much easier. She was a middle school student who was very shy and very bright. She loved art and Dungeons and Dragons. She taught me a great deal! I worked hard to get her scholarships and find the perfect art class for her. During her senior year, she told me she didn’t want to go to college and was sorry to disappoint me. Yes, I was a bit disappointed but I realized this is what she wanted to do. She was not yet ready to move away from her parents and be on her own. To this day, we still chat on the phone and meet for lunch several times a year.

My New TeamMate with Big Dreams

This year, I have a new TeamMate who attends an elementary school. Her older brother was a student who attended Northstar, and he asked me to keep an eye on her. As a fourth grader, she is very smart, independent and already knows she wants to be an obstetrician. When I was in fourth grade, I didn’t even know what that word meant, let alone what I wanted to be.

She has her own challenges but nothing we can’t figure out together. For example, she’s so confident that when she works on a craft during our time together, she neglects to read the instructions. Minor details. We’re working on that skill first.

While working with her, I am reminded how I worked with my grandchildren when they were in elementary school. Don’t tell them what to do or how to do it, and patience is a virtue. Come to think of it, that’s still the way I communicate with my grandkids today. I’m supportive but stay out of their way! Sometimes those grandparent skills just keeping giving, long after your own grandkids are grown and on their own. I’ll always be there for my grandkids and my TeamMates.

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

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