Days 6-7: The Inspirational Mentor

The function of the mentor is to prepare the hero to face the unknown–to accept the adventure. The mentor gives the hero the supplies, knowledge, and confidence required to overcome his or her fear and face the adventure.

The mentor also provides aid, advice, or magical equipment when all appears doomed. Even in the depths of a foreign swamp, the wise mentor may impart wisdom, with or without words. The hero in training might not initially comprehend the lesson until years later, but will eventually learn to use the power of the force, likely passing this knowledge to others.

We all have to learn life’s lessons from someone or something in order to grow. I would not have survived the journey without my mentor’s guidance and stability. And so many laughs along the way.

My mentor is also my most influential colleague (now retired). She is a master educator—a model of professionalism and best practice. Her leadership establishes an environment of professional excellence, trust, individual empowerment, and self-worth. I spent fourteen years the beneficiary of her guidance as she transformed our department into a cohesive, progressive team. 

Through decades of shifting educational trends, the mentor shows the ability and willingness to adapt by using creative problem solving to find solutions. With an emphasis on self-improvement, she maintains a growth mindset—with a vision of progress—consistently focused on the best interest of students. She is an advocate for human rights and celebrates individuality in a diverse world. She believes all students can not merely learn, but succeed, if given a voice and an opportunity. Therefore, she inspires critical thought and challenges individuals to communicate their thoughts. My mentor is also an expert communicator. She speaks with eloquence and poise, with the knowledge that language is power. However, the wise mentor always listens first, thus earning the trust and respect of those in her presence.

My mentor encourages others to take risks while providing support when it is most needed. She gives generous advice, but prefers to guide learners to find solutions without simply giving answers. As a result, students and colleagues develop a natural curiosity while discovering their passions and strengths. She maintains an optimistic vision for education with integrity, compassion, and a sense of humor.

Clearly, my mentor is a selfless, compassionate leader; she takes pride in the success of others with no expectation of personal accolades. Her reward is in the lasting relationships and shared memories with those she continues to impact.

Like a Sherpa guiding a climb, my mentor showed me the way. Now it is my turn. 

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