As I launched this program in fall of 2015, there were constant reminders to move confidently, but to take small steps and never stop asking questions. With every open door, came a new reminder. Sometimes this came through people; and sometimes this came through situations.
This simple reminder allowed the program a healthy start. The fall was made up of several meetings; meetings it turns out can be quite time consuming, but this kept our pace steady. When working with people, communication and patience are key components. The greatest part about these meetings was hearing the stories from people working in this community and wanting what is best for our students. The outcry is enormous. The largest consistency came through the lack of time and resources, and the struggle to make it by without much.
Through these meetings it became all-the-more evident that we need to link arms; that no small thing is going to happen independently. With so much awesomeness already present in Madison, we need to start intertwining roots already planted.
…In walk, our first brave mentors. This winter of 2015, we linked with a handful of mentors ready to jump in and get to know some amazing students. While they knew this was not going to be an immediate pairing, they bought into the story behind the program; they wanted to be a part of change.
Leaving the first informational meeting on December 12th from 9-11am, we were a group with high hopes and big dreams. We knew there was a lot of work to be done, but that we were moving; moving with small steps and many questions.
Looking into the schools, we reached out for the students. We asked teachers for more input and started the process of invitation. What we didn’t realize was the difficulty in getting students involved. In order for students to enter this program, they need to apply and fill out some forms. Not only that, but we want to connect with families. Soon, we realized that gathering students for the program may be one of the most difficult pieces. We want to invite, encourage and motivate students; but, ultimately the choice needs to be theirs.
Finally, rounding out the semester, we were ready to start some pairings. Our patient mentors were ready. While steps continued to remain small, our questions remained as many.
This team remains ready for the oncoming staircase, and are in steady search for answers.