Saturday, May 5, 2018

Least Cool Mentor

You may be surprised to learn that I’m not really big on getting recognition. Don’t get me wrong—I don't mind being “in charge,” but I could really care less about getting credit. When I’m on my game, my work itself is my reward. If this makes any sense, I want to be recognized for not caring about being recognized. But in the last month or so, I've been ceremoniously presented with two certificates that have meant more to me than the everyday thank you’s that we give and get.

To explain the first recognition, I have to back up four years in time. I am meeting a group of 15 freshmen on the first day of their high school orientation. I will be their Mentor for the next four years and this is my first crack at setting them up for success. What do I want to tell them? What golden nugget of wisdom shall I proffer? I decide to keep it simple and as real as possible. I tell them that if I could change anything about how I did high school, I would be more kind and I would care less about being cool. Sounds easy, but it’s not, especially not in the world of teenagers. So I challenge the group to join me in a pledge to be the least cool cluster in the whole school.

After that, we didn’t talk much about that pledge over the next four years. Some of us were more successful than others in the work. At times we remembered to prioritize the real over the fake. At other times we forgot, tried to be cool but weren’t, and so we ended up honoring the pledge by accident.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Senior Dinner, kicking of a sentimental goodbye season that will culminate in graduation day in early June. Each Senior Cluster toasted, roasted and recognized their respective Mentor—I believe I was described as “not so bad, as long as you follow some of his very specific instructions.” I did appreciate their words, but the highlight was the special recognition that they bestowed upon me.

I plan to write more about these overgrown chicken nuggets in the next few weeks. But in the meantime, this gives you an idea of what I’m so proud of.

And now, back to the present. This was a rare weekend with no soccer games to coach. It was an opportunity to continue the outreach campaign that’s in full swing. We’ve been heavy on the grind, connecting with Bay Area high school students to let them know about the 2020 Conference, and how it could help them transform the situation. I spent today at EOYDC, connecting with young people at the Passion Discovery Career Fair, hosted by the Bay Area Tuskegee Alumni Club. Like my Mentees at school, the 2020 Conference is something that I’ll be writing more about soon. All I really want to say right now is thank you to the Tuskegee family,past and present, and thank you to the young people who continue to show up and show us what’s next.

Pura Vida,

1 comment:

  1. For the record from my vantage point, what I remember of your high school days is someone who was Kind and Cool. ("cool" being a version of "admired," and admired in way that inspired others to bring their best qualities to the table--honesty, integrity, and, yes, kindness)