Friday, February 22, 2013

Mentor in the Spotlight: Kathy Walsh

Kathy Walsh is a very special mentor according to BOTH of her mentees. Jazminique, a fourth grader at Spring Shadows Elementary, and Fatima, an eighth grader at Westchester Academy of International Studies (WAIS), used many of the same words to describe their mentor, ‘Ms. Kathy’: Nice, caring, funny, creative, amazing, loving, pretty, and the list goes on.

Both girls also mentioned they know Ms. Kathy believes in them, and this provides confidence to do their best in school and other situations. It is clear Ms. Kathy has earned the respect of both of these young ladies.

Fatima and Kathy Walsh
Kathy Walsh is currently also the partner coordinator for a large group of mentors from Pentair Valves and Controls at Spring Shadows Elementary, tirelessly recruiting new mentors, and making sure the mentors from her company are showing up and making a positive difference for their mentees. She also helps to organize holiday parties for the students and the mentors to help deepen the relationships.  
Principal Jerona Williams said, “The relationship and mentoring service that Ms. Walsh and her company provide for our students is ‘priceless.’ I wish we could have a mentor for every one of our 781 students.”

Jazminique—or Jazze as everyone calls her-- and Ms. Walsh are in the third year of their mentoring relationship at Spring Shadows Elementary. They first got to know each other well when Ms. Walsh gave Jazze a disposable camera to capture pictures of friends and family for a scrapbook they later made together. Photos from Ms. Walsh’s life were put into another book for Jazze to have to get to know her mentor better. Jazze recommends other students should have a mentor because “kids need to have other friends besides young people.”

Kathy with mentee Jazze
Jazze and Ms. Walsh enjoy playing games, looking at fashion design books in the library, and just talking—and more talking! Interests in art and fashion inspire Jazze to think about a career in fashion design at this point in her life. An idea for the name of her fashion line that she came up with is Jazze’s Fashion Adventures. Ms. Walsh plans to follow her mentee through middle and high school to encourage and help her stay on the right course to reach this aspiration. She says Jazze is a “smart, creative, bright student, with good sensibilities,” whose parents are shaping her to be a very well-rounded and successful citizen.  Jazze reports she knows being a good student will help her get a good job, make good money, and not become a “weird hobo living on the side of the road!”

Ms. Walsh became Fatima’s mentor when she was at Spring Shadows Elementary as a fifth grader.  They lost track of each other when Fatima moved to WAIS in 6th grade, but through some excellent detective work by Counselor Steven Schlabach and Mentor Specialist Monica Creixell, they were able to reconnect last school year. Fatima said it was “weird” not having a mentor during sixth grade, and she was so excited and happy to find Ms. Kathy again as she is a good sounding board to help talk through situations. “I tell her about school, my family, my grades, my problems… I get it all out. It is nice to have someone to hear you,” Fatima said. “Ms. Kathy gives me advice. She knows I have the capability to do well in high school.” Ms. Kathy recommended Fatima focus on what is going on in the classroom, and save her friendly socializing for the hallway and afterschool, to which Fatima’s broad smile agreed!

Ms. Walsh says she often counsels Fatima, who is very “goal-oriented,” that she can do whatever she wants to do with her future as long as she puts her mind to it and studies hard.  Becoming a doctor is a goal Fatima has had since she was little, but she also enjoys creative writing, so will also explore careers that could utilize that skill.

“Both of my mentees are very diverse, and both make such a positive impact on my life,” said Ms. Walsh. “It is like a vacation for me when I get to come see them at their schools.”   She is very thankful to the leadership at Pentair Valves and Controls allowing her the time each week to mentor Fatima and Jazze, and thus make a positive impact on the future stories of both students.
Thank you, Pentair Valves and Controls, and thank you, Kathy.



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