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Self-Esteem: Moving On and Moving Up

A mentor would improve Nachson’s self-esteem

It was his school principal who first contacted Kav L’Noar and told us about Nachshon’s difficulties at school. Of all the students, it always seemed to be Nachshon who was getting picked on, Nachshon who was falling behind, Nachshon who just didn’t have it together. The principal thought that Nachshon could really benefit from having a mentor.  He felt a mentor would improve Nachson’s self-esteem. A mentor could encourage and guide him to manage himself and how to get along with others. 

Nachshon’s father had died a few years back and his mother was working 3 jobs to support him and his brothers and sisters. She signed the mentoring program consent forms but after that was never in touch with Kav L’Noar. Nachshon told Mati, his Kav L’Noar mentor, that he hardly saw his mother during the week.  He wasn’t often able to tell her what he was up to or how he was feeling. He also related how guilty he felt about burdening her with his problems when she already had so much to deal with.

After two years it was time to end the mentoring relationship

Two years went by and with Mati’s support, Nachshon was doing much better. He still felt left out sometimes, but he did now have a couple of friends. His grades had improved, and his principal was no longer so concerned. Of course it was still helpful for Nachshon to have a mentor- the extra attention would always be valuable, but there wasn’t anything specific that he and Mati were working on anymore. There were many more students with all sorts of problems who were waiting for mentoring spots to become available.  It was time to bring Nachshon and Mati’s mentoring relationship to an end. Mati told Nachshon that they would start the process of wrapping things up. Nachshon expressed his appreciation for all the help that he had received. 

A surprising phone call

Three days later, Mati’s mentoring supervisor received a surprising phone call. It was Nachshon’s mother. “You can’t do this.” was her opening line. “You can’t stop the mentoring now. Nachshon is starting a new school in September. He needs Mati! You can’t take Mati away.” The supervisor gently explained that there were many other students who would greatly benefit from a place in the program, and that Nachshon had already been participating for two years. “That’s why you should continue,” replied the mother. “What a waste it would be to undo all the good that you’ve done for my son by finishing before he’s ready! Besides, he’s come this far, you don’t know what he’s still capable of. Maybe, with another few months of support, Nachshon could become a leader in his new school!”

The supervisor had very mixed feelings about this phone call. On the one hand, it was amazing to hear how strongly Nachshon’s mother felt about the impact of Kav L’Noar’s program. Even though Nachshon felt that he wasn’t as open with her as he wanted to be, his mother knew exactly what was happening and was ready to fight for her son. On the other hand, he felt a responsibility to the other students. A parent’s job is to do their best for their children, but his own job was to do his best for all the children on his list. 

Moving on and moving up

In the end, a compromise was reached. Mati would continue to mentor Nachshon until Chanukah time, giving him an extra three months after moving to his new school. After that, a new student would have  the same opportunity to move onwards and upwards, just like Nachshon.

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