We’d like to take a moment to recognize this real-life superwoman. Not only is she the mother of four children, but she’s also been a Human Resources representative for nearly 19 years. Can’t imagine taking on even more responsibility? She also volunteers and mentors at-risk school children.
According to Janice Connelly, the time was simply right for her to become involved in a Pensacola-area school where she had once worked as a teacher’s aide some 30 years earlier. “I wanted to go back to the school that meant so much to me,” Janice explained, and she was excited by the opportunity to work with children again.
Janice first became aware of the need for school mentors through her work on the Florida Blue Diversity Business Council, which partners with Escambia District Schools. What Janice discovered at O.J. Semmes Elementary School is that little had changed since her tenure there many years prior – children still come mostly from economically-disadvantaged homes, and lack academic support.
In the five years that Janice has mentored, she has had only two students, De’Asia and Ileyah. “I like to stay with them for as long as I can,” she explains, hoping to remain with the same student from second through fifth grade.
Janice delights in her students’ successes, especially when they gain confidence in their reading and comprehension. Her favorite spot with her current student, Ileyah? The rocking chair in the library, where Ileyah perches with her book and reads to
Janice sitting on a nearby stool. Janice was so proud of Ileyah’s perfect score on her reading test that Janice took a picture of it to include in the mentoring scrapbook that she plans to eventually give to Ileyah.
Janice challenges everyone to consider becoming a mentor. “Just a tiny bit goes a long way,” Janice says. “You don’t need any special skills. Just be a constant, a positive, and something dependable in their lives.” She continues, “imagine if your student grows up believing in themselves; they’ll raise their own children the same way. I always want to set a good example for my students. And I never want to take for granted my own loving upbringing, so mentoring is my way of sharing these gifts in an effort to make a positive difference in my community.”
Florida Blue was honored to name Janice Connelly one of its first Blue Community Champions of the Year, and recognize the passion, dedication and heart she brings to our Pensacola office every day. We will announce our three other Champions and two honorable mentions in future articles.
Have you ever been a mentor? Tell us what it meant to you in our comments below.