Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
De Anza College freshman Axel Cipres Perea, left, meets with her Partners for New Generations mentor, Sue Russell, for advice and encouragement. Cipres Perea is the first in her family to attend college.
When Axel Cipres Perea fell behind in her schoolwork at Alta Vista High School last year, mentor Sue Russell of Partners for New Generations was there to encourage her.
“Sue has always motivated me to do what I have to do,” Cipres Perea said. “She always pushed me to do my schoolwork first.”
Russell’s cheerleading helped Cipres Perea achieve new heights as the first person in her family to graduate from high school and attend college. She is now a freshman at De Anza College.
Russell and Cipres Perea met through Partners for New Generations, a Rotary Club-sponsored nonprofit organization that provides volunteer mentors for students in the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District and tutors in the elementary and intermediate grades in Los Altos and Mountain View schools.
Mentors provide more than motivation to students – they serve as role models, supporters and listeners.
“With Sue, I can talk to her about anything and she won’t judge me,” Cipres Perea said. “I feel different with her. It is nice getting to know someone else who isn’t in your family. A mentor is someone who can listen to you any time you need.”
Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from the relationship.
“It’s a good feeling to have someone call you for advice,” said Russell, who has volunteered with Partners for New Generations for eight years. “Your mentee likes to see you and talk to you because maybe they can’t talk (the same way) with a parent or teacher. Everyone likes to feel appreciated or needed in some way.”
Partners’ tutors receive the same satisfaction.
A decade ago, empty-nester Wally Brunner sought a way to give back to the community. The former teacher turned to Partners and has tutored the same student for six years.
“It’s just been a terrific experience for me,” she said. “It makes my day. My student is so sweet, and I don’t have a daughter – she’s become a real friend.”
Not all tutors remain with their students for multiple years; many specialize in one grade level and help different students each year.
Donations from the Town Crier Holiday Fund will help underwrite the salaries of Partners’ three part-time coordinators, who help match mentors and students.
Those interested in becoming a mentor or tutor are invited to the Information Night, scheduled 6-7 p.m. Thursday in the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Office Board Room, 1299 Bryant Ave., adjacent to Mountain View High.