Big Brother Andrew and Little Brother Gianni have been matched in the community-based program since 2013.
Why did you decide to become a Big Brother?
I wanted to become a Big Brother for several reasons: giving back to community, gaining more perspective, learning to become more selfless, and participating in activities I haven’t done since I was a kid, just to name a few.
What is your favorite thing to do with your Little Brother?
Some of our favorite activities are playing tennis, building railway sets and Lego towers at the Children’s Museum, and playing laser tag at Funtasticks. Gianni and I enjoy similar activities, and he is always willing to learn, He is usually the one asking if we can go to places like Funtasticks, AZ Air Time, or the bowling alley, but sometimes I’m the one asking if we can stay a little longer! When we go out, I frequently try to give him tips to improve at whatever activity we are doing, whether it’s mini golf or tennis. His willingness to listen and learn has led to noticeable improvements, and he has gained confidence in his physical abilities.
How would you describe your relationship with your Little?
It’s been a learning experience for me. I hope that it has been an enjoyable experience for him, and that I’ve encouraged him to push himself to achieve more, both physically and mentally.
Describe the first time you met your Little. How have things changed since then?
Gianni was fairly apprehensive at first, but over time, he has become much more open and communicative, and less afraid of physical activities. He has been more willing to try new activities, and less afraid of challenges. He also seems more self-assured in conversations with adults, and communicates well with other children. Lastly, I should mention that he now double-knots his shoelaces rather than walking around with them untied.
What do you think your Little has learned from you?
Hopefully perseverance, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
How has your Little Brother impacted your life?
My experience with Gianni, who is being raised by his great-grandparents, has made me more attuned to the challenges many children face growing up in their academic, physical, or social development, through no fault of their own. This realization has affected how I approach the activities we do together. I’ve also learned how to be more instructive and encouraging, without being condescending or demanding. I’ve learned how to be more patient and understanding, without necessarily becoming complacent or removing any expectations.
How do you balance the commitment of being a Big with your other commitments?
I make it a priority. Since the time commitment is only once every couple weeks and Gianni is fairly flexible, it hasn’t been too hard finding the time to go out with him.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about becoming a Big?
Think carefully about the age of the child you want to work with, and what you want to get out of the experience.
Please share a favorite memory from your match.
Teaching Gianni how to tie his shoes.
Andrew and Gianni were honored as Big Brother and Little Brother of the Year in 2015. After 2 1/2 years matched in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson program, their match will soon come to a close, as Big Brother Andrew will move from Tucson after his graduation from the University of Arizona. Andrew and Gianni have a truly remarkable friendship, due in large part to Andrew’s consistency and dependability. Before every outing, Gianni waits on the front porch for Andrew to pick him up, and Andrew is on-time, every time. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Andrew for his service and commitment, and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors!
Arizona Spotlight producer Mark McLemore spent some time with Little Brother Michael and his Big Brother Elliot, talking about their relationship, and how their match has changed both their lives for the better. Elliot and Mike have been matched for almost five years.
Arizona Public Media informs, inspires, and connects our community by bringing people and ideas together. Through their work, Arizona Public Media promotes an open exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences. As an operating unit of the University of Arizona, continual learning and education are at the core of the organization’s culture.
School-based or site-based mentoring (SBM) is a mentoring relationship in which the Big and Little meet for one hour each week at the same time and place. For most of our matches, this place is the Little’s school, but site-based matches can also meet at the Mentoring Center, located in downtown Tucson at 160 E. Alameda St., or in other after school site locations.
A 2015 study of site (or school based) mentoring examined 1) whether or not site-based mentoring relationships yield improved academic outcomes for children, and 2) by what means and mechanisms they may do so. The authors of the study look at two factors: feelings of closeness in the relationship on the part of the mentee, and a focus on academics as part of the relationship. They seek to determine which of these plays a more important role in improving a child’s academic outcomes.
These two factors align with two competing perspectives in theoretical mentoring models – “mentoring-as-relationship” and “mentoring-as-context.” The mentoring-as-relationship model claims that interpersonal closeness in the relationship is a necessary prerequisite for positive outcomes. The mentoring-as-context model emphasizes how the mentoring relationship itself provides a space for personal development and goal-setting, regardless of the closeness of the relationship between mentor and mentee.
Unsurprisingly, the study found that relationship closeness was more important than academic emphasis in predicting academic achievement in youth. Only those relationships which the mentee described as “somewhat close” or “very close” yielded positive impacts on academic outcomes. In fact, relationship closeness was a more important predictor of academic success than either match length or match status (whether the mentee was in his or her original, “intact” mentoring relationship, or had been re-matched with another mentor).
Results of the study suggest that the “mentoring-as-relationship” model holds more merit than the “mentoring-as-context” model, since it was relationship closeness, not focus on academics, which resulted more frequently in academic improvement.
Therefore, mentoring programs should seek to find ways to build closeness between mentor and mentee, and not focus too much on achieving specific goals within the relationship. It appears that good mentors could prove as beneficial as tutors in improving students’ academic outcomes. Site-based mentoring programs may be an important resource for schools seeking cost-effective methods to support students’ academic success.
Thank you for your interest in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson. We are not hiring at this time.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides equal opportunity for all qualified persons and does not discriminate against any employee or applicant because of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, disability, or any other protected status. This policy applies to recruitment and placement, promotion, training, transfer, retention, rate of pay and all other details and conditions of employment.