The School Zone: News

January is National Mentoring Month

What better time to realize you can make a difference in the life of a young person? If you can invest about one hour a week in the life of an SBISD student, please contact, or call 713-251-2212 to learn about the few easy steps it takes to become a SpringBoard Mentor in Spring Branch ISD.


A successful technical solutions architect with Cisco Systems and father of three daughters is forging a special friendship with an eighth-grade student at Spring Branch Middle School by just showing up and passing along wisdom from his own father.

“I’m pretty old fashioned,” said Chris Avalos, who mentors Jorge for about an hour each week at the middle school where his wife is an assistant principal.

“My father taught me: to value others, to realize everyone has something to teach, to work hard, to not complain and only speak when you have something important to say.”

Avalos shares these values and other advice with his mentee, Jorge, who lost his father last year. In their year and a half together as mentor and mentee,

Avalos has helped Jorge tame his short temper. 

“He taught me to let stuff go, and to not make something big out of something small,” said Jorge.

Avalos uses some of the same strategies as a mentor that he uses when interacting with global Cisco customers seeking IT security solutions: be available and show interest in their success.

“Jorge can see that I care about his success,” said Avalos. The mentor regularly asks Jorge for updates about his grades, and is helping Jorge get signed up to play in a local baseball league this spring.

“I want to become something in life,” said Jorge. “I want to be able to show the people who invested time with me that they did not waste their time.”

Jorge is taking German at Memorial High School for high school credit, and with this language under his belt, he will be tri-lingual. He also wants to learn sign language. The young man has his sights on attending college to earn a business degree at University of Houston.

“Chris told me to save ten percent of everything I make,” said Jorge, a young man with an entrepreneurial mindset. Avalos stated he wished he had started this practice earlier in life. With the discipline of regularly saving money, Jorge can be ready to jump on opportunities when they arise.

“I told Jorge to be poised for opportunities,” said Avalos. “They come up when you least expect it.”

“A mentor is an extra person who can help you,” said Jorge. “Chris is a nice person to talk to, and I look up to him. He is like a friend.”

When asked why other adults should become mentors Avalos said, “People assume they have nothing to teach. 

“Wisdom is gained by making mistakes. When you share your life experiences, you help someone to not make the same mistakes.”

According to Avalos, mentoring is a way to “make meaning of mistakes in your life.”

The old-fashioned life skills Jorge is gaining as a result of the relationship with his mentor will serve as a foundation for success in high school and beyond, while honoring the legacy of Avalos’ father.

“You just need to be there [for your mentee] to help him on the path to success,” said Avalos.

Submitted by Becky Wuerth, SBISD Communications

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