This year I have had the privilege of welcoming ten of the T-birds to our school, Neely O’Brien Elementary.  I teach second grade at Neely.  Since October, ten players have faithfully volunteered an hour once a week in our school.  Each player has been paired up with a fourth grade student.  These students are all boys who desperately need a male role-model in his life.  They eat lunch together, play games, and even go on the playground for recess together.  The players also take this opportunity to encourage our students with school, establishing good relationships, and making smart choices.  They also talk about consequences.  When bad choices are made there are consequences.  The players use the ice as a teachable moment.  The students use the playground and the classroom as their teachable moment.  Relationships have been formed.  Conversations have deepened.  Discipline problems decreased, as well as attire improved (both students and players).  Empathy for each other has ultimately blossomed.

I have an amazing job.  However, what makes my job more enticing is watching the relationships within a mentoring program.  Yes, these players volunteered with our students on a weekly basis.  The players were also benefited.  They might not be aware of the changes within but for those who observe from a distance, our students were not the only benefactors in our programs, the players were too.

I have every confidence in the Seattle Thunderbirds Mentoring Program.  It would be an honor to welcome them back next year.  They would have my highest recommendation.  They have become part of the Neely O’Brien family.

Submitted by Jolene Wallace, 2nd grade teacher at Neely O’Brien Elementary