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January 21, 2016

It’s "Thank Your Mentor Day!”

Jo Jones

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Today is  "Thank Your Mentor Day," a day where we're encouraged to express our gratitude toward someone who's guided and inspired us, and made a positive and lasting impact on our lives. It's part of Harvard University's National Mentoring Month, which celebrates the benefits of mentoring.

According to NMM, there are various ways that you can say "thank you" to your mentor. You can contact him or her directly to express your appreciation, publish a tribute on social media, make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program in his honor, or even pass on the help that you received by volunteering as a mentor in your community.

Whether you participate or not, and however you go about it, I think it's important to spend some time thinking about your mentors and how they've shaped your life. We move through life so quickly – making progress, achieving goals and planning our next ones. Although we succeed through hard work and determination, we don't always do it alone. It can often be easy to forget the support we get along the way.

I'd like to use this blog post as a platform to say "thank you" to a mentor who, I feel, made a long-lasting imprint on my life –  my high school English teacher, Mr Gold.

As well as introducing me to the delights of Dickens, Larkin and Shakespeare, as any English teacher would, Mr Gold gave me something more than an exam to be passed, a box to be ticked, or a hoop to be jumped through. He passed on to me the love of language.

Mr Gold had his work cut out for him. Attempting to inject enthusiasm into a classroom full of 30 distracted and disinterested adolescent girls – about anything other than Leonardo DiCaprio – was some mean feat… But not for Mr Gold. He'd find a way to engage us all – from the moodiest teen, to the biggest drama queen. (Check out that rhyming ability  – it's all down to him.)

If he wanted us to understand poetic rhythm, he'd ask us to bring in our favorite CDs so that we could analyze the song lyrics. If he wanted to hold our attention during a never-ending  monologue, he would read it out loud in theatrical voices, using a variety of regional (but not entirely identifiable) dialects. If he wanted us to aspire, he'd arrange for authors that we'd heard of to come in and talk to us about their books and to sign our copies.

Mr Gold showed me that the English language is more than just adverbs, apostrophes and alliteration. (Editor's note: these are still important things!) It's about expressing yourself – having opinions, believing in them, and being able to tell the world about them. He made me feel like I had something to write about, and he made me want to write it.

Mr Gold has, without a doubt, made a lasting and positive impact on my life. Writing is a big part of who I am and I can trace many things that I do on a daily basis back to what I learnt from him. My love of books, my first job in publishing, and my subsequent career as an editor, my personal blog and the letters that I write to my children, to read when they know how to, are all examples.

I've not seen him for 15 years, but I still think of him now and again and about what he'd make of the influence he's had on me, my chosen career, this blog post... not to mention my grammar and punctuation!

He may never see it, and never know. But at least I do. So Mr Gold, if you're out there , "Thank you!"

To find out more about mentoring and coaching take a look at some of our resources.

Do you have a mentor who you'd like to thank? How would you do it? Are you an experienced, or an aspiring, mentor? Join in the discussion below!


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