The Missing Piece
New mentoring service is on a role
Ally Livingston, Role Model Mentor to eighth-grade student (and fellow volleyball enthusiast) Phoebe Inall.
Photo by Annie Colao
There is a no man’s land, somewhere between grade school and high school, between babysitting and tutoring, where parents try and fail to connect with their children. It’s a place where the sports we can’t play anymore, the fashions we no longer understand, and the math we can’t comprehend live. It’s a place where eyes roll, homework frustration boils over, and the phrase “you just don’t understand” becomes a nightly mantra.
Into this void of tweenage angst steps Role Model Mentors, a service that pairs upstanding, high-achieving high-school students with middle-school kids, in an effort to model the kind of behavior—academic and otherwise—their parents hope for in their own children. “The mentors are the kinds of young adults that elementary and middle-schoolers naturally look up to,” says Tim Boylan, the founder of Role Model Mentors. “That makes it easier for them to help out with homework, sports skills, or even just demonstrate what good character looks like.”
The mentors are handpicked based on their academic prowess, extracurricular skills, and integrity. They are matched with mentees—usually pre-teens—to help tutor, practice an instrument, or teach sports and art skills. They can even run errands around town, like picking up kids after school and getting them to sports practice on time. Mentors are paid for their time, but they also benefit by bolstering their college resumes with meaningful work experience. And a portion of RMM’s profits is donated to local non-profit groups.
“Our mentor, Ally, is a volleyball player, and my daughter had just begun playing volleyball at the time,” says Tracy Inall, a mother of three from Ridgefield. “I’m not a volleyball player, so I had zero advice on that front. And with homework, it was always a challenge. But Ally was able to make it fun. They would play a little volleyball, talk about prom, and then do some homework. And Ally had just been through all of it, so she knew the new math, she knew the teachers, she knew the curriculum.”
The service is offered in Ridgefield, Danbury, Fairfield, Bedford, Pound Ridge, Mt. Kisco, and Chappaqua. Wilton, New Canaan, and Darien will come online later this year. Three levels of service range between $20 and $25 an hour.