Back in 2015, I joined Communities In Schools of Durham as a literacy interventionist and after school group leader. I worked as three different schools during the course of the year and had the pleasure of serving over 100 students with support in english language learning, math & ELA interventions, and other academic supports.

Although all of the students I worked with impacted me, I was drawn to one high school student, Diamond, who was struggling in a traditional school setting and not thriving academically. I worked with her for a year before taking a different role within the same organization, but continue to mentor Diamond after two years.

As the CEO of a nonprofit, people may think that I don't have time to mentor students that we serve---but on the contrary, I see opportunity to do even more. Mentoring students who receive services through CIS of Durham allows me to take a step outside of my work and truly see the impact of our services and programs.

Sometimes management level staff become engulfed in the day to day operations but it is important to stay connected to the work your organization does by being a boots-on-the-ground leader. My relationship with my mentee continues to grow exponentially because I always remember that I have just as much to learn from her as she does from me---and that feels like the greatest gift of all.