January is Mentoring Month: TeamMates share benefits of local program

MENTOR AND MENTEE — TeamMates Mentor Kris Schrad stops by Boone Central to spend some time with her mentee, Shianne McCready.

By Gabby Christensen
Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear and some quality time to make a difference in someone’s life.
Kris Schrad of Albion found this out after signing up to become a mentor through TeamMates, a program with over 160 local chapters across Nebraska and Iowa that aims to impact and inspire youth to reach their full potential through mentoring.
Along with Boone Central TeamMates, Schrad is also involved in the school’s PTO, 4-H Council, 4-H Canine Cadets Dog Club, Albion Housing Authority Board, and she’s a 4-H shooting sports instructor.
Initially, Schrad wasn’t sure what mentoring would entail, but she quickly learned that she would gain just as much as she gave.
“The most rewarding part of mentoring for me has been making a new friend, and that I take time for myself once a week to go hang out with her,” Schrad said. “It makes me smile every Thursday when I walk into school and she is waiting for me. I love to hear about what she has learned in a class, or to see a project she is working on, or even to find out how she did on a test.”
Every week, Schrad and her mentee spend at least one hour together.
“You kind of find what works for you and your TeamMate on how you spend your time together each week,” Schrad said. “Some shoot hoops, do crafts, play games, just sit and talk, or draw.”
Schrad said it’s important for students to have a program like TeamMates, because it provides them with a friend who isn’t there to judge, to teach, or to preach.
“We are here as a neutral party to just enjoy spending our time together,” Schrad said. “It lets the students get a chance to take a break from ‘life’ in a way—no studying, no tests, no social media pressure. When I meet with my mentee, I want to hear about her and whatever she wants to talk about.”
Schrad said she genuinely enjoys the time she spends with her mentee.
“I want my mentee to know that I will be there every week, and for her to know that I look forward to our time together,” Schrad said. “It makes me so happy when she says, ‘see you next Thursday’ when I leave. I know that she enjoys our time together, also.”
Schrad’s mentee, Shianne McCready, is a junior at Boone Central this year.
McCready said she goes to Schrad for advice on school, friends and life in general.
“She’s really helpful, and we have a lot of fun spending time together,” McCready said.
The pair likes to discuss recent movie releases and current events.
They also enjoy drawing and completing madlibs together.
It’s also fun to bond with other mentees, according to McCready.
“We have trips and events together, which are really nice,” McCready said, adding that she encourages other students to give TeamMates a try.
“It’s a fun experience,” McCready said. “It’s important for people to learn more about this program and understand what it does for young people.”
Editor’s Note: This story is in honor of National Mentoring Month.