Christian Heesch is a lifelong New Yorker and recent Ph.D. graduate who knows that helping young people become more successful and confident creates strong communities. He is a marine biologist who deeply enjoys sharing his passion for the field in the classroom. He has volunteered with numerous school districts and organizations throughout his academic career to ensure that children have both a knowledgeable professional who can introduce them to wonders of the marine world as well as a good role model with their success in mind. He recommends considering the following to those who are thinking about becoming mentors as well as those who already are:
- The most important part of mentorship is being able to actively listen and let children know that they have been heard and understood. It’s important that students understand that their voices and thoughts are powerful and valuable, as many children are used to the messaging that they need to be quiet and let the adults talk. Students often have insightful and innovative methods to solve meaningful problems, and helping them feel empowered to speak up begins with listening.
- Good mentors should challenge their mentees to think about the world and their role in it with new and fresh perspectives. However, it’s important that mentors do this in a safe manner, not pushing too hard or too little. Kids shouldn’t have to step so far out of their comfort zone to where they feel awkward and unprepared. Christian Heesch says that it’s important to help your mentee through this process and move gradually, taking steps that feel safe and comfortable while still making progress. Check in regularly with the child to see how they’re feeling about the pace of the work you are doing together, and adjust accordingly. Many children simply won’t say anything if they’re not asked.
- Good mentors are genuinely interested in their mentee’s interests and growth as a human being. Helping connect a child to opportunities that they may not have had otherwise are wonderful steps that a mentor can take, and informing yourself about the resources available can help your mentee develop a skill set or nurture a passion. Especially in low-income schools, children may not have a plethora of open doors that help them imagine themselves with a successful future in a career that they love. As a mentor, you are in a position to help them build meaningful bridges to their future success.Christian Heesch enjoys collaborating with teachers to provide a “field trip in the classroom” to help show children the wonders of the underwater world. He is dedicated to empowering young women to pursue the sciences as a career path, and he looks forward to future mentorship opportunities.Sources: