Student participants are pictured in the front from left to right – Kiley, Jolene, Lily, Selah, Kierra, Avery, Tucker, Alivia, Brett, Troy, Emma, and Carver. Behind are metors and board members Zach, Jordan, Mrs. Papik, Becky, Mrs. Kroll, Rebecca, Mrs Meyers, Allison, Mrs. Weber, Meg, JJ, Tony, Justina, Mrs. Kanode, Mr. Sheffield, Mrs Steuben, Mrs. Soukup and Mrs Kovanda.
Exeter-Milligan has adopted a new program to positively impact their students. Teammates have come to town.
The Teammates program was started in Nebraska in 1991 by Dr. Tom and Nancy Osborne with a mission “to positively impact the world by inspiring you to reach their full potential.”
Exeter-Milligan School Counselor Denice Kovanda initiated the program at Exeter-Milligan, “I chaired the Teammates board at Fillmore Central when we started it. We had a visit from Dr. Tom Osborne a few years ago (at Fillmore Central) and who can say no to Tom Osborne?”
She saw the impact the program made at Fillmore Central and wanted to see it at Exeter-Milligan. “It was fascinating to watch at FC just because you saw kids that were beaming when their mentors were in sight.”
The program has adult mentors who are paired with a student mentee. Both groups are trained before they can participate in the program. All of their interactions take place on school grounds and the pair are matched up based on shared interests.
Kovanda was very excited to welcome Exeter Alumni Allyson Horne back home to train their initial group of mentors and mentees. Horne is the Training and Match Support Coordinator for Teammates. “Allyson is very involved and she really stirs a passion for mentoring,” according to Kovanda.
At the last home basketball game at Exeter-Milligan the Teammates held a basket auction fundraiser and were introduced at halftime of the game.
Serving on the Teammates Board of Directors are Becky Erdkamp, JJ Becker, Zach Becker, Laura Steuben, Brooke Soukup and Marla Weber.
Right now the Exeter-Milligan team has several extra female mentors waiting for a match but they have three male mentees who want a mentor. “We don’t have enough male mentors. A lot of times it’s a work schedule issue but we have some mentors whose employers have encouraged them to participate.”
To become a mentor, individuals have to have an extensive background check and a three hour training done locally. All the contact is done at school and is scheduled through Kovanda. Usually they don’t meet in the summer unless there is a group activity. “It’s a 30 minute commitment per week. Some meet before school or during the lunch period. They play games or do a craft, have lunch together or just talk.”
“We just started at semester but the kids that are involved are so excited the day their mentor comes,” she added.
Their recent basket fundraiser will go toward background checks. “Harre Seed and Services gave us a generous donation and we purchased T-shirts for all of our participants,” according to Kovanda.
She also mentioned that mentee participants who have been involved with Teammates for three or four years can apply for a non-competitive scholarship for Nebraska colleges some of which are a full ride scholarship.
As for the future of Teammates at Exeter-Milligan Kovanda added, “Obviously we want to grow. We would like to double where we are at right now. The biggest piece, is getting the men in the community involved. More mentors is an easy process. We just need people who want to make a difference in their community.”