May 22, 2012 in Division III
Albion College basketball players Sean Hendon, Luke Walker and Bob Wernet were recently among the recipients of the Michigan Campus Compact Heart and Soul awards and the Jessie Longhurst Rotary Service Award. The players are part of a mentoring program at Albion that works with students at Harrington Elementary School in Albion. From a university news release:
Peg Turner started the program when she was a kindergarten teacher in the Albion Public Schools so members of the men’s basketball program could learn that success wasn’t solely determined by wins on the hardwood while the schoolchildren gained a positive role model.
“Ms. Turner nominated us for the awards after being impressed by how dedicated we came to it,” Wernet, an economics and management major from Rockford, said. “The three seniors haven’t missed many weeks with their mentees over the last four years.”
In a typical weekly visit, each mentor spends the first 45 minutes assisting the student with classwork and the remaining time is devoted to talking to the student or playing a game.
“My kid is really excited to see me every week and that makes it easy to go,” said Hendon, an economics and management major from Fremont who already has an accounting job lined up with Ernst & Young. “He’s got quite the sense of humor, so I get to talk with him, joke around with him, while he’s doing his homework. He has really progressed in school as I’ve been there. It is very rewarding to see that – maybe what I’ve done has helped him. When we are doing math and I can interact with him I have lost track of time.
“I think the last 15 minutes are the best time because it allows me to build a relationship with him,” Hendon added. “He always asks what it is like in college so we talk about school a lot – what I’m doing and what I’m going to do. I try to encourage him by asking what he wants to do when he grows up. He asks about me playing basketball once in a while.”
While he’s completed his collegiate eligibility and will be getting married over the summer, Hendon said he hopes to continue to use basketball as an avenue to work with kids.
Walker, a Cedar Springs product who is majoring in mathematics and concentrating in secondary education, said he has become like a big brother to his mentee. The mentors and mentees pose for a picture late in the school year to provide a lasting image of the bond that was formed.
“Most of the time I think my mentee teaches me more than I teach him,” Walker said. “It’s good to work with the younger kids and see how they think. It is a progression, and if I can experience how younger kids think I can relate that to when they get older.
“The mentee becomes your buddy.”