10 Years, 10 Stories: Understanding what kids need
More than 70% of students in United Way’s Be a Middle School Mentor maintained or increased their reading grade; more than 60% maintained or increased their math grade during the school year.
As an in-house lawyer with K&L Gates, Sandy Kozera knows that support and encouragement are key to helping anyone accomplish their goals. In fact, nearly 10 years ago a coworker encouraged Sandy to start a unique journey with United Way’s Be A Middle School Mentor program.
“It’s hard to volunteer when you work full time and have small children,” Sandy said. “Mentoring allows me to make a big impact in just an hour each week, during the workday.”
Sandy was matched with a sixth grader, Aliyah, at Pittsburgh King and the two stayed together for four years. Sandy was concerned that their relationship would weaken over summer breaks, but both kept returning. “I had the privilege to see Aliyah really grow into herself over the years,” Sandy shared.
Sandy and Aliyah spoke about many things during their mentoring sessions, including Aliyah’s favorite subjects in school, homework, her interest in singing and dreams to be a veterinarian. “We talked about the classes Aliyah would want to do well in so that she could meet her goals,” Sandy says. “I hope that other adults in her life support her dreams.”
Her mentoring experience has also inspired Sandy to get more involved in her local school district. “Talking to middle school kids has had an impact on my understanding of what kids need from the education system,” she said. “United Way’s Be a Middle School Mentor program has solidified that focus for me.”
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania is honored to celebrate 10 impactful years of our Be a Middle School Mentor program. You can make a difference for local kids by becoming a mentor today.