Creighton joins a long list of Nebraska towns finding an interest in the TeamMates Mentor program.
In 1991, Nebraska Head Football Coach Tom Osborne and his wife Nancy started the TeamMates Mentoring program. Coach Osborne felt that the athletes in his program could make an impact on the middle school students.
That year, their program proved successful with all of the 22 mentees graduating high school or pursuing careers and 18 going off to higher education.
According to their website the TeamMates Mentoring Program was formalized as a statewide program in 1998 with 12 chapters and 441 mentor/mentee matches.
In those 20 years, TeamMates has steadily grown to include over 150 chapters and currently serves more than 8,400 youth through partnerships with local school districts.
TeamMates has changed a little from its roots. Kids are now partnered with an adult from their community, as there are not enough Husker Football players to go around statewide and beyond.
Bloomfield and Wausa have been participating in this program and Creighton is new to joining TeamMates.
Chris Baldwin works as the guidance counselor at Creighton school, and she said Principal Ryon Nilson and herself had been talking about the program for the last few years.
This year they finally pulled the trigger and began putting everything together. To make the mentor program work, a lot of planning is involved.
There are coordinators, board members and of course many volunteers needed.
“We have a great board,” Baldwin said. There are nine total board members who oversee the financial aspects, set goals and plan fundraisers.
Baldwin and Nilson are coordinators and match mentees to mentors based on interests and common ground.
The TeamMates mentoring goal is described on their website as providing mentoring for students in order to improve their hope and engagement, thus positively impacting their overall wellbeing and academic success.
Instilling hope in the mentees makes them hopeful for their future and gives them a positive mindset. Mentors also try to influence the mentees engagement by instilling enthusiasm for school.
“Every kid can benefit from having another good influence in their life,” Baldwin said.
She also pointed out how the adult mentors can gain from the experience. Mentors can benefit from knowing they helped a student and hopefully inspiring the children to give back to the community once they are older.
“It helps bridge the gap between community and school,” Baldwin said.
According to Baldwin, students become mentees one of three ways – self nomination, parent nomination or teacher nomination. The student has to agree to be mentored before they can become a mentee.
Parents of mentees also have a 20-minute training so they can understand what their child will be doing in the program.
“The pair can do whatever they want, they can play games, play cards, go for a walk,” Baldwin explains. The pairs usually stay on school grounds but are not limited to stay there. Paperwork can be done by the board to allow the mentee and mentor to go off campus.
Currently, Creighton has 40 volunteers to be mentors, 30 of which have completed their training. The board has put together a goal of 45 volunteers, so they are still in need of some mentors.
The board threw a TeamMate Tailgate to promote interest in the program. However, Baldwin is convinced that word of mouth has been the biggest contributor toward the amount of volunteers.
“I am overwhelmed by the support the community has shown,” Baldwin said.
She had expected a much lower goal and was initially intimidated by the steep goal of 45.
She also noted how many people are still interested and continue to apply to be mentors.
Creighton is targeting their students between grades 4 and 10 to be mentees. Parents can nominate their children to be mentees. Interested parents can reach out to coordinators Chris Baldwin or Principal Ryon Nilson. Also, be sure to contact them if interested in mentoring.