Ashton Hughes looks forward to lunchtime every Tuesday, because it means two things: a game of Crazy 8’s, and a chance to spend time with his mentor, Lorraine Gray.
“She’s fun,” says the third grader.
Since the beginning of the school year, Gray has visited Ashton every week at Robinson Elementary School.
A human resources administrator at WIX Filters in Gastonia, Gray is one of about a dozen employees from the company’s corporate headquarters serving as volunteer mentors at Robinson.
Having recently moved to Gaston County, Gray took the opportunity to sign up with the Gaston County Schools mentoring program, and has been meeting with Ashton weekly since the beginning of the school year.
“I think it’s important to give kids a voice, and to let them have one-on-one time with a role model,” says Gray.
She makes the most of the hour with Ashton each week. At one recent lunch meeting, their game of Crazy 8’s also included an impromptu math lesson on multiplying by 9. They also talk about the books Ashton has been reading from the “Goosebumps” series.
“I’m only 2 points away from my AR (Accelerated Reader) goal!” he announces.
Gray sees mentoring as an important time investment. She hopes her time with Ashton will make a difference, whether or not she sees it.
“It’s a chance to have an impact on someone in ways you may never know,” she says.
But that weekly game of Crazy 8s with a friend offers immediate rewards too, Gray says: “It brightens my day, that’s for sure.”