Throughout the 2016-2017 year, we
are turning the spotlight on “Success Builders” in our school district. Each
article in the “Success Builders” series focuses on programs and people who
help our students meet the Profile of the 21st Century Graduate.
One of the most
important relationships in Haley Johnson's life began with a meeting she
"When I met
Lynne, I thought it was just going to be a waste of my time. When I found out I
was actually getting a mentor, I knew I wasn't going to change my ways. I knew
she wouldn't be able to help me," she said.
Haley was a senior
at Easley High School when she was paired with Lynne Mathis, a community
volunteer for the YMCA's Y Mentor Program. Johnson describes her life at that
point as a rough patch when she didn't care about school, graduation, or much
of anything at all. But at their first meeting, Lynne saw past the struggle.
"My first impression of Haley was that she was a beautiful young woman. In
just talking to her the first time, I knew she could accomplish anything. She
just needed someone to support her and cheer her on," Lynne said.
Click here to learn more about becoming a mentor!
The Y Mentor program
has a simple expectation for volunteers: meet with an at-risk student for at
least 30 minutes a week, and try to be a positive influence. As Lynne met--and
exceeded--this expectation with Haley, her vision for her mentee gradually became
through her choices of 'life after school' and how she could get
there," Lynne said. "I remember telling her during our first or
second meeting that it was already inside her; we just had to find it. We
worked through a massive amount of seat time she had to make up, regular
attendance practices, making up missed work and honing in on a post-graduation
plan. We met with her counselors and teachers to get her to graduation. It was
never a matter of not being able to do the work. It was having a person to be
sure she was present, in class and doing her assignments."
me in so many ways," Haley said. "I would go to school like once a
week before I met her, or even go weeks without going to school. She changed my
whole outlook on life. . . Lynne pushed me to be the best I could. She encouraged
me and told me I could be anything I put my mind to. I can say if it wasn't for
Lynne Mathis I wouldn't have been part of the 2016 graduating class."
Haley even surprised
Lynne by choosing her for the robing ceremony at graduation. Since graduation,
Haley attended cosmetology school before switching to pursue a career in
nursing, recently earning her Certified Nursing Assistant license. Lynne is
still part of the mentoring program, building a relationship with a new student
at Easley High School.
107 students in
Pickens County are currently being served through the Y Mentor program, with
life-changing results. The YMCA is
always in need of more volunteers, and to anyone thinking of volunteering,
Haley has a message:
"You can help
so many people out and change a life like Lynne changed mine. You will be
giving a student a real chance at making something of herself--being a shoulder
to lean on, a smile to see, encouragement to give and receive. Every student
needs a role model or someone to look up to."