Spotlight on new mentor Michelle Brantley

July 22, 2016 in Uncategorized by Dikla Tuchman

Michelle Brantley and two of her scholars, Verenice and Kinza.

Michelle Brantley and two of her scholars, Verenice and Kinza at an LA Dodgers game.

Being a new mentor can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Suddenly, you are responsible for having a profound impact on the trajectory of another person’s life. While people encounter mentorship opportunities in different ways throughout their lifetime, establishing a one-on-one mentor-scholar relationship creates a new kind of bond unlike any other.

In her first year working as a secretary at Lennox Middle School, Michelle Brantley felt compelled to finally find out what that special bond was all about. After a colleague of hers handed Michelle a pamphlet and gave her the run-down on why PSP was a mentorship program that really made a difference, Michelle was convinced. This was the year she was going to do it. This was her chance to be a mentor.

“After years of saying that kids need mentorship, I thought it was time,” says Brantley. She was immediately attracted to PSP when she heard that being a mentor meant a six-year investment. The program’s content was also a factor, as Michelle reflects on how meaningful the experiences have been for her as much as they have been for her scholars. “It’s been great for me because a lot of these activities are a first for me, too. We get to experience these things together,” says Brantley thinking back to her first Los Angeles Galaxy soccer game with her scholars.

After less than a year of mentorship, Michelle has already been inspired and encouraged by how much her scholars have grown since their first meeting. “Watching them grow and evolve and mature” is what Michelle loves most so far. “I know they’re excited and so appreciative,” says Michelle. “I’m really looking forward to them being in high school and taking them on college visits.”

That’s what it’s all about. Michelle’s goal for the girls is undoubtable to see them go off to college. “I’m excited about getting them to open up and explore,” she says, looking forward to the high school years ahead when the focus will be on visiting schools and seeing those college acceptance letters come in.

PSP Executive Director, Lisa Ruben, feels fortunate to have Michelle among the ranks of the dedicated, passionate mentors that make the program successful. “Michelle is making a huge difference in the lives of her scholars,” says Ruben. “From the moment she began mentoring with PSP, her care for the girls she mentors was apparent.”

On their first outing together, Michelle and her scholars stopped off at a craft store to buy supplies to each make scrapbooks, a memento for them all to share and keep track of their many explorations over the years to come. “Making sure we establish a connection to keep the relationship strong” is her main concern. Although next year her students will still be easier to reach with Michelle on campus much of the time, she anticipates the challenge ahead of her as her scholars go off to high school.

Michelle and her scholars are already busy making plans for their upcoming adventures together. “We’re going to see Hamilton as soon as it gets to LA,” says Michelle with a smile.