DANVILLE, VERMONT - Our exploration of the Developmental Relationships Framework continues with a story from our Guided Mentoring program. This time we will examine the concept of Expanding Possibilities, a key element of the framework developed by Search Institute and utilized by DREAM mentors this Fall. The framework consists of five elements: Express Care, Challenge Growth, Provide Support, Share Power, and Expand Possibilities. Each element offers actionable, relationship-building steps that contribute to healthy relationships between kids and the adults that support them. We’re exploring one at a time through the lens of a DREAMer and their experiences.
Expanding Possibilities is the subject of our story this time. According to Search Institute, a youth would understand that their adult was expanding their possibilities when:
They are inspired to see possibilities for their future.
They are exposed to new ideas, experiences, and places, broadening their horizons.
They are introduced to people who can help them grow, creating beneficial connections.
This story starts in the town of Danville, Vermont with a group of mentors from the Danville School. While they are the mentors, our Guided Mentoring program is multi-tiered, meaning there are multiple layers of mentorship designed into the program. Each mentor in the Guided Mentoring program has a Mentor Guide (who is often an AmeriCorps member as well). Along with our program staff, they guide the young adults attending our partner high schools, teaching them how to build relationships with an elementary-aged child and how to create positive, supportive experiences that supplement their time at home, school, and in extra-curricular activities. True to our mission, they are facilitating opportunities.
Gabrielle Tatoyian is one of our Mentor Guides who is serving at Danville School. She, along with Adrianna Watrobski (also a Mentor Guide), is supporting mentors for the second school year in a row. The two of them, together, have built relationships with many of the mentors already, but are deepening the connection while welcoming new mentors into their group. Last weekend they partnered with the DREAM mentors, participating in “Autumn on the Green,” a Danville community event similar to a farmer’s market or craft fair. The DREAMers joined over 100 other vendors operating a booth as a fundraiser for their upcoming activities with their mentees. The Danville DREAM mentors created homemade crafts like painted rocks with inspirational messages, sensory bottles, and themed signs and posters that they sold. In addition to creating their merchandise, the mentors operated the booth. They explained DREAM and Guided Mentoring to attendees, conversed with community members who stopped by to see what they were up to and sold their creations.
The booth was a hit, gaining popularity throughout the event as the most kid-friendly and a destination for a few minutes of fun. As Gabrielle and Adrianna reflected on the event, they were able to comprehend the experience the mentors were able to gain and their role. While many of the mentors were understandably timid when the project started, the fun they shared and the collaboration they engaged in while preparing for the event sparked inspiration. This was an event that was going to be fun in and of itself and it also led to insightful experiences for them and the elementary-aged mentees. The more they could sell, the more opportunities they would have for their next mentoring activity with their mentees. Additionally, this was a new experience for many of the mentors, so understanding they could work hard and earn some money to assist their community was eye-opening. The social nature of the event encouraged the mentors to socialize and share their experiences with pride, establish confidence, and expand their connections with their Mentor Guides and the community surrounding them.
The event was a success and Gabrielle and Adrianna were able to model Expanding Possibilities for the mentors, preparing the mentors to do the same for their mentees in the Spring. The whole process was a tremendous demonstration of the multi-tiered mentoring approach and the magic of our Guided Mentoring program.