Published On: Thu, Sep 7th, 2017

TeamMates are making a difference in Randolph

RANDOLPH —  TeamMates have been making a positive impact on a number of students at the Randolph School for 15 years.
The mission of TeamMates, a school-based mentoring program, is to positively impact the world by inspiring youth to reach their full potential.
The program involves volunteers who agree to be a TeamMate mentor. The mentors are then matched with a student they will be meeting with on a weekly basis.
Randolph was accepted as a chapter of the Nebraska TeamMates Mentoring program Sept. 5, 2002, according to LaDonna Leiting
Leiting, who is serving as the secretary for the Randolph chapter and Mel Spader, coordinator, have been part the Randolph group since its beginning.
Spader had a vision in 2002 to begin a mentoring program that was school-based and completed all of the necessary ground work so Randolph would have a mentoring program, according to Leiting.
Randolph TeamMates began the program with six mentors who completed the two-hour training for the program in 2002. Today Randolph has 15 mentor/mentee matches.
Over the years the Randolph School has had approximately 45 mentors who have been trained for the program, according to Leiting.
TeamMate Mentors, who are volunteers, meet with the students at the school setting during the day on a weekly basis. The program in Randolph is open to students in sixth-twelfth grade.
“Mentors meeting with the student on a weekly basis is part of the program,” Leiting said. “Everyone makes an effort to make it work.”
A strong trusting bond can develop between the adult mentor and the student as they continue to meet.
“An amazing relationship can develop as the mentor and the student meet during the six years. You can just see how the student has the utmost respect for the mentor,” Leiting said. “It is wonderful.”
Even though Randolph has 15 TeamMate mentors there is a need for more volunteers to become mentors, according to Mel Spader, coordinator for the program in Randolph.
“We need more mentors. We have kids who want to do this,” Spader said. “We especially need to have some men volunteer. I like to match the students who are boys up with a man mentor.”
Spader meets with the fifth grade students in the spring at the end of the school year and tells them about TeamMates. He gives them brochures and information to take home for their parents. The program starts for the students in the fall when they are in the sixth grade.
There can also be some students in the higher grade levels that want to have a TeamMate mentor.
Statistics show these students will have better grades and there is a higher rate who will graduate from high school, according to Spader.
“It is good for the kids but the mentors also get a lot out of this,” he said.
Tom Osborne, who is well-known for his coaching success with the Nebraska Huskers Football team, will be in Randolph on Friday, Oct. 27, to talk about the TeamMates program.
Osborne will be in Randolph earlier in the evening and then in Laurel to share information about the success of the program later in the evening Oct. 27.
Osborne was the University of Nebraska Head Football Coach when he and his wife, Nancy, founded the mentoring program known as the TeamMates in 1991.
Osborne and his wife had seen a need in the Lincoln Public Schools for a mentoring program. He felt the athletes in his program could make an impact on the middle school students, which resulted in 22 football players meeting with the students in the Lincoln Public School.
After seeing the positive affect a mentor can have, Osborne has helped expand the program, which now has grown to over 135 chapters in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Wyoming.
Mentors for Randolph TeamMates include:
George Bradley, Betty Gross, Alice Goetsch, Ruth Carstens, Susan Korth, Brad Bargstadt, Doug Backer, Chris Hansen, Luke Stueckrath, Jolene Wurdinger, Nicole Olson, Gary Umberger, Mel Spader, Sue Meyer and LaDonna Leiting.
Board members include Carmen Patent, trainer for TeamMates and Board President; Sandy Owens, Treasurer; LaDonna Leiting, Secretary; Sue Meyer and Dennis Bazata. Mel Spader is the coordinator for Randolph TeamMates.