From left, Board President Karen Peck, Becky Wuerth, Leticia Rodriguez, Beverly Martin, Sylvia Urteaga, Steve Schlabach, Patty Cordrey. Kerwin Paniagua, Roger Ethridge and Dr. Muri.
The common denominator is humility. To a person, the individuals honored by the SBISD Board of Trustees in January could not imagine why THEY were being recognized for their support and dedication to the mentor programs in the district during National Mentoring Month. “So many other people are more deserving,” was a common comment when informed about their #IAMSBISD awards for embodying the core value of #EveryChild.
Roger Ethridge was recognized for his 10 years of service as a SpringBoard mentor with other mentors from Chapelwood United Methodist Church. Over this time he has mentored seven young men at Academy of Choice and Valley Oaks Elementary, several all the way through high school graduation.
“I am truly humbled by the prospective honor of being recognized as a leading supporter of mentoring in SBISD schools,” said Ethridge. “My wife, who is a former SBISD employee, encouraged me to get involved since she could see a great need for male mentors.”
Ethridge currently is mentoring two students, one in high school and one and in elementary. Ethridge’s younger mentee, Kerwin Paniagua, attended the meeting with his mother, and with pride and a huge smile, presented a bouquet to his mentor. His mother was smiling as well, knowing her son is so fortunate to have this caring adult in his life. Research shows that young people need three or more caring adults in their lives as key ingredients to growing up in to successful adults.
Patty Cordrey was recognized by the Board for her service as a Collegiate Challenge mentor and the partner mentor coordinator at Northbrook High School. A mentoring program for juniors and seniors, Collegiate Challenge helps high school juniors and seniors with college exploration and applications. Chapelwood UMC is also the program partner at Northbrook High School, and individuals from the church serve as mentors on a weekly basis during the school year.
Cordrey, too, was hesitant to be singled out for the #IAMSBISD recognition.
“While I know that mentoring is a hugely important endeavor that I wholeheartedly support,” said Cordrey, “it is definitely a group effort. There were many mentors that came before me (most in the form of teachers or other family members) for these students, and, usually, some that come after. My work with them is only a piece of the long trajectory leading students toward a successful future. Most of the hard work the students have to do on their own, and my job then becomes cheerleader and appreciator of their efforts.”
Cordrey’s mentees have a friend for life. She keeps up with those who have gone on to college and moved into the workforce, and checks in with them regularly to see how they are faring.
The team that takes care of the 42 mentor-mentee pairs at Westchester Academy are like a well-oiled machine. Counselors Stephen Schlabach (Lower School) and Beverly Martin (Upper School) attend all the mentor recruitment trainings, host mentor appreciation events, and know all their mentors and mentees by name. They offer a truly personalized approach.
Martin and Schlabach are superbly assisted by Sylvia Urteaga and Leticia Rodriguez, who welcome the mentors each week, prepare special name tags for them, send passes to the students on the days their mentors visit and keep the match records up-to-date. All four were genuinely surprised to be selected for the #IAMSBISD recognition. They do this important work without expectation of any recognition because of their dedication to their students’ well-being. Big smiles belied the team’s humility as family members and Westchester colleagues cheered for them at the Board meeting.
Also recognized with #IAMSBISD – as a surprise – was SBISD community relations specialist Becky Wuerth. Community Relations Officer Linda Buchman said that Wuerth, who manages the district’s mentor and volunteer programs, is an “unsung hero” working behind the scenes to make things happen.
Team members from both SBISD mentor programs felt that all the #IAMSBISD awardees were well-deserving of the recognitions. With humility, they represented more than 500 mentors in SBISD, and the “best of the best” mentor program teams during National Mentoring Month.
The #IAMSBISD award recognizes individuals or teams who embody one or more of SBISD’s core values of #CollborativeSpirit, #CollectiveGreatness, #EveryChild, #LimitlessCuriosity and #MoralCompass.
Those interested in becoming part of the SBISD mentor “family” should call 713-251-2468 for more information.