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Mentoring Month: Do you have what it takes to mentor a Boston Public Schools student?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


By Pamela Civins, Executive Director of Boston Partners of Education


For eleven years I have been honored to lead the nonprofit Boston Partners in Education. We have been a partner of the Boston Public Schools for 50 years with the goal of making sure students in every neighborhood of our city succeed inside and outside of their classrooms. We strive to close student achievement and opportunity gaps by building a bridge from students to the community that may otherwise not exist.

We are just one of many organizations supporting our youth in and out of school time. There are countless ways to get involved in a city like Boston. We are fortunate to operate within a city whose leaders not only recognize the value of mentoring services but actively support their creation. Superintendent Tommy Chang recently called for his staff at the BPS Central Office to “raise their hands” to become mentors for BPS students, while Mayor Walsh continues to build empowering relationships for youth through his Mentoring Movement, already engaging 1,100 plus mentors last year.
Partner BPS  

Boston Partners in Education taps into the immense and amazing talent that exists in Boston and the surrounding area. We could not support students in the Boston Public Schools without the commitment from our volunteers, who come from all ages and backgrounds to serve as academic mentors to students directly in the classroom during the school day for at least an hour each week.

As both an executive director and academic mentor, I’ve been fortunate enough to see how consistent mentoring support helps students fill academic gaps and build the self-confidence necessary to achieve their goals. Recently, I’ve been thinking about what makes an ideal mentor, and I don’t believe there is one single attribute that stands out. People enter our lives and can be there for several years, for a year, for a day and for even an hour and still be a mentor to us.

Regardless of who or how you’ve mentored, here are a few attributes that foster positive mentoring relationships:
  • Show up and be present (put your cell phone away for an hour). If you commit to seeing each other weekly, mark the time in your calendar like all of your other meetings during the week; 
  • Be honest with your mentee, which means sharing your successes but also your failures and what you learned from your mistakes;
  • Don’t make assumptions about your mentee. Take time to ask questions and to listen to your mentees’ answers;
  • Be prepared for the time you spend with your mentee. For example, if you’ll be doing school work, be sure you understand what is being covered; and, finally,
  • Be excited and enjoy the time you spend with your mentee. Before you know it, the hour, the day, the month, the year(s) will be over!
We can all benefit from someone who will provide positive reinforcement and encourage us to follow our dreams. Sometimes just hearing those words helps us to take a chance in our lives.

Whether it’s through one of these movements or not, many of you are probably already mentors to others in your lives. I’m encouraging you to keep doing what you are doing, but to also explore getting involved in a more formal mentoring opportunity. For every nonprofit organization providing these services, I guarantee you, there is a waiting list! All of our nonprofits need your help. It’s up to you to find the opportunity that is best for you.

Do you have what it takes? I know you do! Please consider becoming a mentor to a Boston Public Schools student in 2017.


Interested in becoming an academic mentor? Simply fill out our volunteer application form to get started:

For more information, visit or call us at 617.451.6145