Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a mentor?
A: A mentor is an adult friend who, along with parents and family, provides a child with guidance and positive reinforcement. Volunteer mentors are asked to join Talbot Mentors for a minimum of one year, with the goal of spending at least 1-2 hours a week with their mentee outside of school and to build over time a relationship with the child. Effective mentors focus on being a reliable presence in the child’s life and sharing fun. This approach helps develop a sense of trust, offers new learning opportunities and makes the experience enjoyable for both the adult and child.
Q: How do new students get matched with mentors?
A: Talbot Mentors strives to identify Talbot County children in grades K-12, but with a focus on K -5 who are in need of extra adult guidance and support. If you would like your child considered for the program, please speak with his/her school Guidance Counselor. Decisions to enroll new students are made on a case-by-case basis. The volunteer nature of our program makes it impossible to match every child in need of extra support. Consider that mentors are a limited resource. There are simply not enough volunteers, especially male volunteers, to meet the demand.
Mentors are not trained therapists, tutors or juvenile service workers. They are not equipped to assist all kids. Experience has shown that volunteers matched with kids whose needs they cannot meet are more likely to quit prematurely. We don’t want to set any child up for this disappointment.
Q: What about the parents?
No match is made without the support of a child’s parent or guardian. There are several interactions with parents throughout the mentee enrollment process to make sure they feel their child could benefit from mentoring. The parent is also part of the match meeting, when the mentor and mentee first meet. And, parents are invited to attend organized mentee-mentor activities.
Q: Is there a long wait for mentors?
A: We try to match mentors and children who share similar interests and attitudes. Matches are same sex. Finding the best mentor for a child can take months. We have learned that this care in matching helps the relationships last longer.
Q: What kind of people are mentors?
A: Mentors are volunteers from various walks of life who share an interest in children. Mentors must be at least 21 years old. Most, however, are 50 or older. Before being matched, volunteers must complete a written application, provide three references, take part in a one-on-one interview, complete on-line training and attend our in-person orientation session. Talbot Mentors also completes criminal background and motor vehicle checks.
Q: How many mentor / mentee pairs are currently served?
While the exact numbers fluctuate year to year, Talbot Mentors generally supports at least 75 matched pairs at any given time.
Q: How many mentees have participated in the program since its inception?
Approximately 350 children.
Q: What are the major programs?
Partners In Art; Send our kids to Camp; Service Learning Opportunities; After School Club including tutoring
Q: How are mentees referred to the program?
All of our referrals come through guidance counsellors at schools in Talbot County.
Q: Is there any monitoring of the mentor / mentee relationships?
TM has a Case Manager that communicates with pairs via email and phone calls. If necessary, TM does home visits.
Q: How are mentors screened?
Potential mentors are interviewed by the Executive Director to determine whether they are good candidates, and to ensure they are aware of expectations. Background checks are run, and letters of recommendation are requested. TM determines, based on the mentee list, if there is a compatible match.
Purpose: Ensures a safe and positive experience for mentees and volunteers
Purpose: Introduces volunteers to the practices of effective mentoring, and shares tips for interacting with at-risk youth
Purpose: Considers the preferences of parents, kids and mentors; uses staff to assess which volunteer would work best with which child
Supervision and Support
Purpose: Professional staff member maintains a schedule of contact with the child, mentor and parent