2 weeks ago Mary Griffith
At a Quincy Art Center gallery opening recently, I came across a lovely young woman I have known since she was a child. What she said about me made joyful tears well in my eyes.
I was introduced to Danielle Mast when she was a first grader at Berrian School. Following in my mother's footsteps, I had volunteered to be a one-on-one mentor in a program at the Quincy Public Schools. They paired me with Danielle, who at the time was struggling with her reading skills. Danielle was smart and eager to learn. We spent a half hour each week on a big comfy couch in the hall outside her classroom. Just the two of us. I was patient and encouraging. She started to learn and gained confidence. At the end of first grade, Danielle could read.
When second grade rolled around, I asked to continue my mentor relationship with Danielle. We worked on her reading skills every week. I met her parents and her siblings. Danielle and I started doing things together outside of Berrian School. With her teacher's permission, I started to be a classroom helper for all the second graders in her class.
The years rolled by. Eventually I had four children to mentor. I took them all to the movies, to the theatre, horseback riding, to show them the radio station, to my house to bake cookies (what a mess), to art shows and to concerts.
Danielle is now a Senior at Quincy High. When I tapped her on the shoulder at the art gallery, she gave me a big hug. She caught me up on her family and her plans after graduation. She is going to John Wood College. She was with her friends, so I didn't want to monopolize her time. We hugged again and I walked away feeling very happy. One of Danielle's friends asked her, "Who was that?" I was out of the room, but not out of earshot when I heard her reply, "Oh, that's Miss Griffith. She is my mentor. She taught me to read."