Returning to school to make a difference for kids

“A learning experience for the mentee and the mentor”

As a former teacher and current director of charter schools, Lisa Augustin knew becoming a mentor through United Way’s Be a Middle School Mentor initiative was the right way for her to reconnect with students.

Three years ago, Keyonna, a feisty sixth grader, was matched as Lisa’s first mentee. For 45 minutes, once a week, they ate lunch together, did preplanned activities, played games and chatted. “As time went on, I watched her grow and mature, both academically and personally. By eighth grade she was striving for straight ‘As’ and she’s now a more focused student, ready for high school.”

Through her relationship with Keyonna, Lisa has seen the way she can make a difference for local kids, just by showing up and being present once a week. “It’s amazing the positive impact you can have on a child’s life. You can help them choose the better path just by giving them advice, providing a different perspective, and broadening their horizons,” she shared.

Not only that, Lisa has also grown along the way. “As a mentor, you can learn something about yourself – it’s a growth experience for both the mentee and the mentor,” she said. “It was so rewarding to see the kids’ excitement when they saw their mentors at school. And I knew I made an impact when Keyonna couldn’t wait for her mom to meet me.”

United Way’s Be a Middle School Mentor (BAMSM) is the largest school-based mentoring program in Southwestern Pennsylvania, matching more than 2,400 mentees with mentors since the program’s inception in 2009. To learn how you can get involved, visit

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