A Journey of Mentoring: Celebrating Sue Sammon's Impact at Sonoma Valley High School
In the bustling halls of Sonoma Valley High School, there is a place where connections flourish and support abounds—a place known as the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance Mentor Center. For 23 years, Sue Sammon has led this remarkable center, leaving an indelible mark on the lives of countless students. As Sue approaches retirement, it is the perfect time to reflect on the profound impact of mentorship and the role mentors play in shaping their mentees’ lives.
Solidifying Bonds through Years of Support: At the heart of the Mentor Center lies a foundation of enduring relationships. Many mentees have been matched with their mentors since their elementary school days, forging deep and lasting connections. “By the time they get to high school a good chunk of my role is to keep the kids and mentors engaged and a part of the program. The kids don’t need another authoritative figure in their life they need a friend, someone who can walk alongside them as they navigate being a teenager,” explains Sue.
A Friend to Walk Alongside: Sue understands that high school students need more than just another authoritative figure in their lives — they need a friend, someone who can walk alongside them as they navigate being a teenager.
Consistency and Responsibility: In the realm of mentoring, consistency is key. Those mentors who consistently show up and are there for their mentees build an unbreakable bond of trust—a rock-solid foundation for their relationship. Through years of ‘showing up’, these mentors become a dependable presence that students can lean on in times of need. Moreover, the Mentor Center empowers mentors to have open and honest conversations with their mentees, teaching them the invaluable lesson of taking responsibility for their relationships—a vital aspect of personal growth. “We try to empower the kids to own the relationship a little bit more. That’s not always something they have in their lives.”
A Welcoming Space for Connections and Bright Futures: When you step into the Mentor Center at Sonoma Valley High School, you are stepping into more than just a physical location—you are entering a warm and inviting space that encourages connections.
Equipped with games and areas where mentors and mentees can interact, the center fosters an environment of friendship and camaraderie. As Sue prepares her mentees for life after high school, she instills in them the immeasurable value of staying connected and nurturing their relationships with their mentors. Sue’s hope is that these bonds will continue to grow stronger, leading to even brighter futures for these remarkable young individuals.
Creating a Ripple Effect and Leaving a Legacy: Before bidding farewell to her mentee and mentor matches, Sue encourages them to reflect on their time at the Mentor Center and cherish the profound difference it has made in their lives. She inspires them to give back to their community by volunteering and, perhaps one day, returning as mentors themselves. The Mentor Center’s scholarship program deepens the connection between mentees and mentors, as heartfelt letters are exchanged, further fueling the desire to remain connected and continue making a positive impact on one another’s lives. “Before they leave I always tell the kids ‘In 6 – 8 years I want you to look around your community and to remember your time with us. I want you to volunteer and to come back to us here and to mentor.’ Down the road they can look back and say ‘that made such a huge difference to me and I need to help another child in another way.’
As Sue prepares for retirement she’s in the busyness of the end of the school year and knows that she has made an impact on countless Sonoma youth – and that her work was meaningful. From all of us at Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance we are so thankful for Sue.
Her legacy will forever live on in the hearts and minds of the students whose lives she has touched, inspiring them to pay it forward and make a difference in the lives of others.