Edd Merritt, Contributing Editor
Charlotter Jim Hyde was recently was voted Comcast Vermont Mentor of the year for 2018. A retired college professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, Jim decided that he did not want to give up working with students and helping them learn, so he looked for a program in which he could put skills that he had used over the years to younger students’ benefit. Four years ago he discovered Charlotte Central School’s “Connecting Youth” mentoring program through its director, Wendy Bratt.
Wendy invited him to join, and Jim soon found himself spending one day a week with a 7th grader named Sam who loved math but, at the same time, was a bit reserved. Jim’s mentoring took forms of creative activities that would not normally be found in school classrooms. These were things such as the development of mechanical sculptures, designing and building an intricate miniature sailboat and creating computer-aided-design (CAD) drawings. To lighten things up they periodically shifted into a game mode, hitting ping-pong balls back and forth.
As Sam moved on to CVU, Jim kept up his mentoring activities, and he took on another CCS student, Noah. Sam and Jim continue on as members of the CVU advisory board. Jim says that the program helped bring those interested in mentoring back into an elementary and secondary school environment after having been many years away from it. He says he has been able to see “many of the wonderful things that are currently going on in schools that were never a part of our past experience.”
He believes every kid can benefit from having a mentor. The source of learning, he feels, comes in many ways and shapes, and the mentoring process helps to acknowledge its presence outside the classroom.
Why I nominated Jim
By Wendy Bratt, CCS Mentoring Coordinator
I nominated Jim after a great deal of deliberation. For five years I have chosen not to nominate anyone because all of the mentors in our Charlotte program are incredibly dedicated mentors who give so much with their presence at our school.
Yet this year I recognized how much Jim has influenced Connecting Youth at CCS—not only through his four years mentoring at CCS, but also his commitment to support us in the start-up of the Connecting Youth mentoring program at the high school. We started that work three years ago with one year of committee meetings to look at the viability and wisdom of expanding the program from middle school into the high school. Jim and his 8th grade mentee (now in 10th) said yes when I asked them to be on that committee, and they never missed a meeting (one and a half hours every two weeks, starting at 7:30 a.m!). Jim has continued on the advisory board at the high school.
It’s a treat, pleasure and honor to have his support, especially to see him “get” the magnitude and ripple effect of this simple form of volunteerism, which, at its root, is all about supporting, developing and seeing the importance, impact, power and strength of relationships between adults and young people, particularly at this time.
One of our tag lines at Connecting Youth is “Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters.” To me, that says it all—about Jim and about all the dedicated mentors at our schools.
Mobius, a regional mentoring umbrella agency, was founded in 2003, to provide support to mentoring programs by helping to expand mentoring opportunities, recruiting and supporting new volunteers, and raising awareness of the cause. In 2012, programs, funders and representatives from Mobius worked collaboratively on a plan to transition Mobius into serving a statewide role, and in 2013, Mobius, Vermont’s Mentoring Partnership was born.
As part of Mobius’s annual celebration of Vermont Mentoring Month each January, Comcast sponsors the Vermont Mentor of the Year Award. In presenting Hyde with this year’s award, Daniel Glanville, vice president of government, regulatory and community affairs for Comcast’s Western New England region, said, “Comcast believes strongly in the power of mentoring and is dedicated to giving back to the communities where our customers and employees live and work. We’re excited to sponsor the Vermont Mentor of the Year Award for a third year and to partner with Mobius to highlight a few of the many dedicated individuals in Vermont who are making a difference in their communities by serving as a youth mentor.”