Year of Lift: Mentoring at Oyler School

While it’s fulfilling to contribute money to a cause you care about, to donate goods to those in need, or even to submit to a needle and give your own blood, nothing quite matches the deep satisfaction of seeing your efforts have a direct and positive impact on a child.

Northlich has participated in the Hampton Mentoring Program at Oyler School in Lower Price Hill for many years. Volunteers are paired with one student (kindergarten through fourth grade) each school year, and spend 30 minutes a week helping their student with subjects such as reading, math and social studies. Along the way, mentors boost confidence, self-esteem and independence, and act as positive role models for their students.

It is remarkable what 30 minutes of focused attention can do. Seeing a child struggle to learn the basics of phonics in August, encouraging her effort with patient guidance over the school year and then listening to her read a book aloud in May is rewarding beyond measure. Through lifting these kids with our commitment, we lift the entire community by serving those who will be its future.

Here are some words of inspiration from Northlich employees who have mentored at Oyler.

Pat P., Associate Creative Director

This is my second year mentoring at Oyler. I started because I wanted to share my love of reading with kids. I really enjoy hearing them read aloud, especially dialogue and sounds. I’ve got a great connection with DeWayne, the student I’m mentoring this year. I tell him he’s the best reader in the world, and that’s probably true. He’s off the charts. One day, DeWayne’s teacher recommended a stress ball (a fidget toy) to keep DeWayne focused. After less than a minute, the stress ball exploded, raining white powder all over us. DeWayne is a pretty serious kid; he comes from a rough home, and that was the first time I saw him laugh.

Jules H., Editor

I’ve been mentoring at Oyler for three years now. Before I worked in advertising, I was an educational assistant at a public elementary school, and after I made the career switch I missed knowing I was making a difference for kids. I love that moment when you see a concept really click for a kid after they’ve been working at it for a while. I’m fond of all the students I’ve mentored, but I was especially close to a funny, smart spitfire of a fourth-grade gal named Hannah, and hope that my time with her had a lasting positive effect. This year, a first-grader shared her favorite joke with me. Q: What happens when you wear your hair in a ponytail? A: You look like a horse’s butt!

Sandy S., Director of Human Resources

I’ve been mentoring at Oyler with Northlich for five years (I had previous experience mentoring there) and I love making connections with children who need a little extra support. My favorite part is seeing their reading improve from the start of the school year. I connected especially with a fourth-grader one year; he is now moving on to ninth grade and continues to check in with me each school year. The appreciation from the students is so gratifying.

I also really enjoy the Happy Day festival at the end of each school year, which includes games, prizes, a petting zoo, and even a traditional carnival snow cone maker. One year there was a downpour, and everyone piled into the gymnasium to watch the kids run around and play basketball. The kids didn’t seem to mind; they still received the attention and recognition they deserved.

Todd S., Account Director

I have mentored at Oyler for two years and continue to feel blessed for the opportunity to give back. My favorite part is helping kids work through the challenges of learning to read. I enjoy teaching them to sound out words, knowing that each moment is making them a better reader and ultimately a more confident student. It’s sometimes really clear that they have struggles at home. I imagine their parents are struggling too and can’t always give them the attention they would like to. That’s why I do my best to give the kids my undivided attention, compliment them and make them feel great about what they’ve accomplished.