Mentors Have Big Impact on Students, School Culture

DUBUQUE – Polly Christensen walks up to the front door, and the office buzzes her in.

It might seem like a normal Wednesday, but for 5th graders Deniece and Gabby, Wednesday is the best day of the week.

Polly, a junior at Loras College, is one of 26 mentors that currently come to Lincoln Elementary School to meet with their students for a half hour every week.

“My favorite is just getting to catch up each week with them and see how their week is going.”

Mentors like her from local colleges and businesses have been coming to Lincoln Elementary School for years now.

“Even though it’s just a half hour a week. It just makes such a difference in their lives,” said Jim Luksetich.

Luksetish is the man behind the scenes, matching mentors with students at Lincoln.

“It’s just a relationship, a friendship. What [the mentors] give, they realize very quickly they get back many times over.”

And at Lincoln, a Title 1 school where every student receives free lunch and attendance isn’t always steady, the impact is noticeable.

“The day that their mentor’s going to be here, they rarely miss school,” he added.

It’s all about about seeing the best in others. Polly sees it in Gabby and Deniece.

“I think they’re both such great friends, especially to one another. They’re always there for each other,” she said.

My favorite thing about Deniece is she has a very quiet and strong confidence to her…[and Gabby] has just such a bubbly and bright personality and she just remains so positive through different things that she goes through.”

And the girls definitely see it in Polly.

“She’s basically my best friend,” said Gabby. “She’s the one I can talk to like Deniece.”

Jim is always looking for more mentors for the program at Lincoln. He also mentioned the need for mentors at other schools in the district as well. You can find more information by visiting http://www.dbqschools.org/district/programs/student-mentoring/

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