By Rebecca Svec for Crete TeamMates
To understand how deep Gracie and Sabrina’s mentor relationship runs, you need to look back to 2011.
Sabrina Reed is a fifth-grader at Crete Public Schools. She moved in from Las Vegas following her parents’ divorce and found Crete and Las Vegas were two very different places.
Sabrina is a triplet; a little quiet, a middle-schooler trying to figure out who she can trust. She loves to read and doesn’t mind being off by herself with a book.
Zoe White, program director for TeamMates mentoring program, starts to connect with her, learning who she is.
One day, Zoe introduces Sabrina to a woman named Gracie Bohmont, a longtime TeamMates mentor. Gracie is a trim and energetic 50-something, who speaks in a gentle voice.
“I think you would be a good match,” Zoe tells them both.
They were, without a doubt.
But that didn’t mean it would be easy.
“I was young and didn’t really understand what (TeamMates) was truly about. I just thought I was going to meet with an older lady once a week and sit in silence,” Sabrina recalls.
They did have some awkward lunches; some long silences stretched between small chat and games. But before long, those lunches were something Sabrina looked toward.
“Without realizing it, I started opening up to her and building that connection and that’s when it all started to change for me. Gracie became someone I could talk to and build a relationship with and trust.”
Back to the present.
Sabrina just finished her first semester at Concordia University in Seward, where she is pursuing a double major in psychology and behavioral science. She received scholarships to join the forensics and cheer teams and competes for both.
Gracie is still Sabrina’s mentor, now through TeamMates Plus, which allows mentors and mentees to continue their relationship in college.
They meet for breakfast or lunch or sometimes, just coffee. They might talk for 20 minutes; they might look at their watch and realize two hours have passed. “We don’t even have to say everything to understand each other now,” Sabrina said.
She was happy to help out with a TeamMates article, as long as it tells people that “Gracie is the best,” she dictates, laughing.
Gracie is the longest continual mentor in Crete Public School’s TeamMates program, a mentor since the program began in 1999. In the 20 years since she has mentored five students, following several until their high school graduation. She now serves on the program’s Board of Directors.
Joining TeamMates all those years ago was “way out of my comfort zone,” Gracie said, but she wanted to try, for at least two reasons:
She knew children and the difference-maker mentoring could be. “I was around kids all my life,” she said, describing her childhood in California. Gracie was a foster child adopted by her foster parents and grew up with the other children they took in over the years.
She knew, too, that she needed to keep moving forward, staying ahead of that empty space left behind when Monte passed away; Monte, her husband, the Nebraska farmer who convinced a California girl to farm with him by Martell. Their two sons were in high school when he died at age 48.
Mentoring was a new role in her new future. “My boys were still in high school, but getting ready to move on. Crete had just asked for volunteers for the new TeamMates program. I signed up and we all learned together. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Gracie said.
Her first match was with a young boy who had also experienced the loss of a family member. They bonded over board games and cookie-frosting lessons. The young man moved away, but Gracie didn’t forget about him, following his progress at a nearby school over the years and even attending his graduation ceremony, walking up to him to see if he remembered her. (He did.)
Each time a mentee graduated, Gracie connected with a new student. There were many more lunch hours of cookie-frosting and crafts and games.
Sabrina wasn’t into crafts, Gracie recalled, so they had to find other ways to pass their early meetings together. They took long walks and talked about the latest activity Sabrina was trying - from volleyball to the speech team -- with Sabrina practicing her speeches on Gracie over their lunches.
It was her privilege, Gracie said, to watch the transformation of a quiet fifth-grader to a bold, candid and confident young woman. “It’s just like watching your child grow and mature and go through all that they do, but you see them once a week... That’s the challenge, too - you only know what they share. So you just listen, and be there.”
It’s exciting, Gracie said, when the crafts and games give way to talks about college and careers.
Along with family and teachers, Gracie was an important influence in that process, according to Sabrina. “I love talking with people now and that development stemmed from her and wanting me to open up. ...moving at a young age kind of built that wall for me; she was able to be that person who was able to teach me some things when I didn’t think I could trust anyone.”
The positives go both ways, Gracie clarifies. The chance to watch a young person, unafraid and willing to try new things, - “It drew me out, too.”
That’s part of their compatibility, that good fit Zoe promised them years before.
In Gracie, Sabrina sees a fun-loving person with an adventurous soul. “There’s a softness to her, but also a lightness; she brings light to every situation both through humor and her knowledge.”
It was at one of the TeamMates program gatherings, while meeting other mentors and mentees, that Sabrina realized without TeamMates “Gracie probably wouldn’t be in my life and she’s been one of the most important constants in my life.”
Sabrina advises both students and adults to give TeamMates a chance. “At first I thought “I don’t need anybody’s help in my life.’ Now as a young adult I can see that I did need that help. Be accepting and willing of the love and support people around you are willing to give without even knowing you.”
***Want to support your Crete chapter of TeamMates? In addition to the need for mentors, the program also relies on generous community support. Each donation makes a difference (and is also tax-deductible). For information on how to become a mentor, contact Zoe White at 402.826.7775 or email@example.com. To make a donation please mail to 1500 E. 15th St. Crete, NE 68333
Addie and Kailyn are working on a project to raise money for the Humane Society. This is an independent project for their Enrichment class with Mrs. Drevo. They are selling items on Tuesday mornings at the middle school. They've made a variety of craft items to sell. Please help support their philanthropy!
Mentor: Marty Stones
Marty is a mentor with Crete Public Schools.
A young retiree when he moved to Crete, Marty learned about TeamMates at a gala, at a time when he was looking for ways to give back. A father of five, he knew he would enjoy working with students. Marty brought a wealth of diverse experiences to the role of mentor. He had lived in Nebraska, Guam (during his father’s civil service during the Vietnam War) and finally, Virginia. Marty earned an electrical engineering degree from Old Dominion and applied it to his career with the U.S. Navy, retiring as a senior manager in the Department of Defense.
Marty met his mentee, Kaleb, during Kaleb’s eighth-grade year. With a shared interest in engineering their match flourished; from middle school to college years; from Jenga towers and pick-up basketball, to creating beautiful wood projects together -- auctioning one piece off at a TeamMates fundraiser.
Kaleb is completing his second year of college now, on his way to a degree in manufacturing engineering. Marty and Kaleb continue to meet through the TeamMates Plus program, two men now, catching up on life and whatever it has brought them in a month’s time. To Marty, it has been a privilege to watch the somewhat shy young man come out of his shell and become a leader.
“Kaleb was a great kid when we started and he has grown to a wonderful young man. It’s really a blessing to work with him. It will be fun to see him launch himself into his adult life,” Marty said.
Marty has exceeded his original goal to simply give back as a volunteer. He started the mentorship journey again with his second match, an eighth-grader at Crete Public Schools. He also added the role of President of Crete’s TeamMates Board.
“Being on the board, I get to see more things about TeamMates that make me even more passionate about it and making sure we have a viable program for the future.”
‘Viable’ includes finding mentors like himself, people willing to lend a little bit of time to impact a young person’s future in a big way. It’s not hard, he promises, and you’ll likely get as much from it as the student does.
“You’re there to listen -- not necessarily to solve anything -- but to be an ear. Advise. Encourage. Build a friendship. No one can have too many people in their life who are positive.”
Kaleb White, mentee:
With two older brothers completing the TeamMates mentoring program, Kaleb can’t remember when he didn’t know about TeamMates. It seemed natural to become a mentee in the fifth grade at Crete Public Schools. When his mentor moved away for a job opportunity, Kaleb was a bit nervous about starting from scratch with a new person.
He needn’t have worried. His new mentor, Marty, was easy to talk to. Husker football and sports was a favorite topic for both. “I’d be late for my next class sometimes because we could talk for hours,” Kaleb recalls. One weekly session built on the next: from eighth-grade to high school, from high-school graduation to college.
Kaleb is 19 now, a student at Southeast Community College in Milford, on track to graduate next May with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Manufacturing Engineering Technology. He also is working at Kawasaki Motors through an internship.
He and Marty still meet about once a month through the TeamMates Plus program.
When they met for the first time as retiree and college freshman, they shared dinner at the Pizza Kitchen in Milford and it felt like a new chapter of a favorite book. ...Stay ahead of stuff, Marty encouraged, ...You don’t want to fall behind at college. They talked of internships and first-year coursework.
Kaleb felt grateful to have this mentor be a part of his life for so long.
“(Marty’s) one of those people who are a natural leader and you just want to do things correctly when he’s around. It rubbed off on me. Sometimes I’d think before I made a decision, 'Is this something that’s smart? Is it something I could tell my mentor about?’ It was nice to have someone like that through school, in addition to my parents.”
They made memories together that will stick with him for a long time. In Kaleb’s high school years, he and Marty built wood projects together. One project was a gift for a close family friend and veteran. At a family gathering, Kaleb heard just a bit of what the friend dealt with in his time in Afghanistan. Kaleb wanted to make something that would show gratitude for his friend's service. Kaleb and Marty made a plaque that read: "Not All Heroes Wear Capes.”
Their next wood project was an end table with a drawer and oak top in a brickwork pattern -- to be sold at a TeamMates gala. Kaleb was selected to speak. The kid who was once pretty shy, pretty quick to step away from the limelight -- he shined that night, delivering a heartfelt message to a crowd of about 300.
“I got to meet Tom Osborne and my whole family was there. It was a pretty special event.”
If everyone could hear Tom Osborne’s story about the ‘ripple effect’ of the mentor who changed (Tom’s) grandfather’s life and in turn many others, more people would volunteer for the role, in Kaleb’s opinion.
“I think people don’t understand that a half-hour a week can affect somebody’s life...It’s a blessing. It definitely opened up opportunities in my life and it doesn’t take much time at all. It doesn’t take any skill to be there for somebody.”
For information on how to become a mentor contact Zoe White @ 402.826.7775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PALS (Positive Attitude and Leadership by Students) is a school based mentoring program. There are 42 senior students, Sr. PALS, who volunteer to mentor a 5th grade student, Jr. PALS, each week. The seniors and fifth graders play board games, play sports in the gym or playground, and talk to one another. “The fifth grade students love spending time with their Sr. PAL. They tell me on a weekly basis that the time with their PAL goes way too fast! It is amazing that our very own high school students are making such a positive impact in their school community,” states Lisa Fye, the intermediate school principal. The Sr. PALS will have volunteered over 210 hours by the end of this semester.
Wendy Byh Jongejan, M.Div.
High School TeamMates & PALS Coordinator
Crete Public Schools
a: 1750 Iris Ave., Crete, NE, 68333
Click on the link below to view the CPS Annual Report
Your children may qualify for free meals or for reduced price meals. Reduced price is $0.30 for breakfast and $0.40 for lunch.
Please click below for a 2019-2020 Free/Reduced Meal Application forms:
All meals served must meet meal patterns established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, if a child has been determined by a doctor to be disabled or has a food allergy and the disability/allergy would prevent the child from eating the regular school meal, Crete Public Schools will make any substitutions prescribed by the doctor. If a substitution is needed, there will be no extra charge for the meal. If you believe your child needs substitutions because of disability/allergy, please contact the school nurse.
Below are documents pertaining to school policy and recommendations on concussions. Policy 6283 Concussions - Instruction Return to Learn Protocol Nebraska Department of Education: Bridging the Gap Nebraska Department of Education: Bridging the Gap Appendixread more
Calendar Week of January 26 - February 1, 2020