The Power Of One-On-One Mentorship

The Power Of One-On-One Mentorship

     Tom Mulder has a unique perspective about the growth of the ArtSmart student body as a whole, as he has been a part of ArtSmart since its beginnings as a mentor and as Director of Operations. Read on for Tom’s insight as to why the one-on-one mentor relationship is such a special aspect to the ArtSmart program and how it is changing children’s lives. 
     I’ve been working for ArtSmart for the last three years ever since the very beginning of the program’s inception at East Side High School in Newark, NJ. I’ve been a mentor and a part of our administrative team and I’ve seen so much good come from these lessons.
     There is one aspect of the program that is by far the most valuable thing we offer: one-on-one mentorship between teenagers and adults.  Based on what I’ve seen first-hand, I believe that one-on-one mentorship is a tremendously important aspect of the program for the growth of our students. We connect our mentors and students through the shared experience of having a passion for the arts. This is as an incredible avenue for academic development and artistic growth for our students. It yields some pretty incredible musical performances and vocal progress, but the maturing I’ve seen in our students as people over the years is the thing that makes ArtSmart so special.
     It is our mission to provide one-on-one lessons to underserved communities. Many of our students’ parents are incredibly busy working multiple jobs and our students are often working jobs as well. A large percentage of our students are also taking care of younger siblings or cousins. Therefore, for a student to have 40 consecutive minutes of one-on-one time with an adult is incredibly powerful. Having that one-on-one time with an adult that they can not only learn from but trust, is beyond special. I have seen it save students’ lives.
     For a youth to connect with an adult is extremely validating. As a teenager, it makes you feel like you’re coming into your own and that you have something valuable to contribute in the world. Earning the trust and validation of a highly qualified professional singer lights a fire within our students. It is incredibly inspiring to witness. They learn creative thinking, discipline, and how to communicate one-on-one with an adult. Whether or not they pursue music as a profession, these are skills that will aid them throughout their entire adult lives.
     I strongly urge the adults reading this blog to open yourselves up to the ways in which you are already a mentor and to think about how to nourish those relationships. You never know how much the young people in your life may need you.
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