Springfield mentor makes difference in student’s life
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | January 14,2013
SPRINGFIELD — Zach Cheney, a fifth-grade student at Union Street Elementary School, was eagerly awaiting his friend’s arrival Thursday. Floyd Buck, a well-known student mentor from Springfield, made his way down the hall, high-fiving all the students who crossed his path.
“So what are we going to do today, Zach?” Buck asked.
Zach, a shy but friendly 12-year-old, said with a smile, “Let’s play football.”
Buck volunteers with Let’s Do Lunch, a mentoring program that matches volunteers with students for one hour a week for the whole school year. Windsor County Partners offers the mentoring program to Windsor County children between the ages of 5 and 18, free of charge.
Buck has been Zach’s mentor for six years. He has offered him guidance and support, friendship and skills for life.
When asked why he mentors Zach, Buck said it’s about finding a student’s potential in life.
“I’m passionate about kids and I try to get them to be passionate about their own interests and develop that. It’s the small little things,” Buck said.
Buck recalled a time when he and Zach went to the Black River on an outdoors field trip. They went fishing, caught crayfish, went on nature walks, and learned about the local habitat.
Zach was very active with his classmates and Buck could tell that Zach thrived in outdoor education settings.
“Zach opens up more outside when he takes part in more hands-on stuff. Just seeing him do hands-on stuff and figuring things (out) on his own shows how much he is blossoming,” Buck said.
Zach’s fifth-grade teacher agreed.
“Zach is having a great year, academically. His math skills have shot up. I think when you know someone else in your life cares about you that will have the biggest impact on someone,” Vanessa Stern said.
Buck said goodbye to Zach after recess and told him he’d be back next Thursday. Zach is already looking forward to it.
“I enjoy having an adult to talk to and play games with,” he said. “We play football, he shows me how to throw it and I get better. I’ve had great times with him.”
“The relationship we formed keeps us going, Buck said. “I hope Zach gets a lot out of it. It’s changed my life and it’s rewarding to see him grow into the man he’s becoming.”
Southern Vermont mentoring organizations are celebrating National Mentoring Month in January. Windsor County Partners is seeking donations and volunteers. There are 23 young people waiting for an adult volunteer to spend time with them, they said.
To learn more, visit www.windsorcountypartners.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call executive director Kathy Kinter at 674-5101.