There are many pathways to becoming a mentor in the SpringBoard Mentoring Program in Spring Branch ISD. In this case, a sports coach became a mentor to one of her athletes, and continues to be a sounding board as they journey through different stages of life.
Ten years ago, when Allison Gower was coaching a young girls’ basketball team, she met a fifth-grade girl named Jacqueline Cortez.
“She was one of the team's leaders and went out of her way to help me get to know the players and their families,” said Gower. “Many of the families spoke Spanish as a primary language and Jackie helped me communicate and organize.”
After basketball season, the close-knit team coached by Gower wanted to play other sports together, so she stepped up to also coach or assist with their softball and soccer teams.
Noticing the positive influence Gower had on her daughter as a coach, Jacqueline’s mom asked Gower to become an official SpringBoard mentor to help Cortez navigate middle school at YES Prep at Northbrook Middle. And so, the mentor and her mentee started on a new academic and personal journey together, meeting once a week during lunch period through middle and high school.
“I think it is so important to have friends who are of different generations, and Jackie has always been willing to help me learn about current situations through her eyes,” said Gower.
Cortez graduated from YES Prep Northbrook High School in May 2020, and went to college for two years at Central Baptist University in Arkansas. Over time, she began to realize the degree she was pursuing was not what she really wanted for the next chapter of her life.
“The most impactful advice I received from my mentor was during my transition stage of leaving traditional college and communicating with her that I actually wanted to pursue a license in cosmetology,” said Cortez. “My mentor reminded me that it's okay to change courses in life as long as we find what is truly meant for us.”
Gower helped her mentee explore possible cosmetology schools and speak with several people in the industry to get advice. Cortez, now 21 years old, and her mentor continue to meet up for breakfast or lunch to further their friendship and talk about life.
”To any student thinking about having a mentor, I believe it was one of the best things for me,” said Cortez. “It was like my personal guidance counselor who I continue to be friends with beyond middle school and high school.”
Why become a mentor
Gower encourages other people in the community to become SpringBoard mentors, and uses her friendship with Cortez as an example of the impact a mentor-mentee relationship can have on both people’s lives.
“She always says ‘yes’ when I ask her to help me, and I hope that I can continue to be there for her,” said Gower. “It's not every day that you get to make new friends and being a mentor is an awesome way to do it!”
More students need mentors
There are many students in SBISD waiting for mentors. If you would like to experience the power of being a mentor, please follow the next steps here. A small investment of time each week can have long-lasting benefits.
Help SBISD celebrate 20 years of mentoring and the Power of Two.