Meet Mallory, Simpson Literacy MentorPosted on April 8th, 2019
Simpson literacy mentor Mallory, employed full-time and serving on the boards of several nonprofits, has been matched with eight-year-old Faye for the past six months. Mallory first learned of the Simpson literacy program through a Simpson staff member. “I was a little nervous at first because I hadn’t spent that much time with kids. I attended an information session and learned about it. … I decided that literacy mentoring would be a good fit.”
Mallory meets with Faye for an hour and a half on Monday evenings. Mallory picks up Faye in her car, and they drive to a local library for their meetings. Mallory facilitates prepared lesson plans, available to help Faye as she reads an assigned book and completes worksheets focused on literacy building blocks. The pair also enjoys some free time for additional reading and conversation. Faye enjoys selecting a $.25 book of her choice at the end of each meeting.
Faye has grown leaps and bounds in her reading skills, handwriting, and self-confidence. “It’s fun to see her increased interest in reading. In the beginning, Faye would quickly pick a book. Now she spends time looking at them — she takes her time — before choosing one. Faye is excited about reading, and she spreads that joy,” says Mallory.
Faye is a friendly and inquisitive girl who speaks her mind and loves to ask questions. Faye’s curious observations have prompted conversations about race and identity. Children and Youth Services Manager Jocelyn Pickering has offered book selections that encourage this discussion of race and cultural heritage. “It’s been cool to talk about different black women and how she sees herself. I give her space to ask questions and make connections. I would like to be an example of another black woman other than her mom or teacher that can help her stay curious and excited about learning,” says Mallory.
Mallory notices that their one-on-one mentoring time is very special to her young mentee: “Faye lives with her older brother, mom, and grandma. She enjoys having this time to herself with the time and attention of another adult.”
Mallory is grateful to Simpson staff for the rich and relevant training they have provided to support her mentoring experience. “I’ve come to appreciate Simpson for how knowledgeable and culturally aware they are. They offer training about cultural competence — discussing biases and resisting them. They talk about the socio-economic situation a family might have while experiencing homelessness.”
Finding significant meaning in the mentoring experience, Mallory describes special mentoring moments: “It’s really fun to see the world from a child’s eyes. Faye just used public transportation and had never been in a car before. … It’s fun to see her experience new things. We went on Simpson field trips to the aquarium at the Mall of America and the zoo. She was holding my hand. It was so precious.”
Mallory plans to continue working with Faye. She sees that mentoring makes a big difference for Faye, and she is exciting to see where this personal and academic growth will lead her.
She encourages other people to consider volunteer mentoring with Simpson; “I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. It’s important to have adults in children’s lives — adults they can trust. You learn what a difference you’ll make for a child — and for yourself.”