University Park, IL,
15:17 PM

SXL mentor program benefits both mentors and mentees


The School of Extended Learning’s New Leaders and Mentors Program provides a host of benefits for both its proteges and its mentors.

 Just ask Lynda Byrd, former principal of Bloom High School and a mentor for 13 years in the program, which matches experienced administrators with first- and second-year leaders. Pairs meet for a minimum of 50 hours throughout the year, when mentors can offer advice and support.

Byrd, who has had about 40 mentees over the past decade, works to be the mentor she wished she had early in her career. She describes the relationship between a mentor and mentee as “invaluable,” giving her a chance to impart knowledge from her decades of experience.

When asked about the kinds of advice she reinforces to her mentees, Byrd said one of the most important things is to not to make decisions on the spot “because you live to regret them.”

“Take it under advisement and once you thought about it and examined it in your own mind, the pros, the cons, then get back to it but don’t do things on the spur of the moment,” she cautioned.  

She also offered this advice: "It’s equally important for administrators to get back to a parent, teacher or staff member about the things they are concerned about. Take some time to think about it but always get back to them,” she said, recalling a time when she made the mistake of doing otherwise.

While mentees reap the benefit of her rich experiences, she is able to continue fostering her love for learning, noting that mentoring requires her to keep up with new things and changes in education.

“The language that people are tossing around now would have been totally unknown years ago,” she said. “So that requires me to get in there and keep learning and that’s awfully important.”

Recently the School of Extended Learning has received a two-year grant to support new first-year principals. The grant will provide one-to-one mentoring throughout the remainder of the school year at no cost to participants. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program will be completely virtual. To be part of it, first-year principals can complete and submit this application with a signature by Jan. 24, which can be sent via email to Saundra Mickles at