Mollie Ockene, a senior in high school, recently wrapped up a three-year stint as a homework mentor at the Connolly Branch of the Boston Public Library (BPL). The Gazette conducted a question-and-answer session through email with Ockene to discuss the program and her time as a mentor. (The session has been edited.)
Q.: When/why did you get involved with the homework mentor program?
A.: I got involved with the homework mentor program my sophomore year when I saw a flyer about applying to be a mentor in the Connolly Library in JP. I had been going there regularly and accessing the resources there for the other 15 years of my life, so it just seemed natural to have my first real job be there, doing something that would hopefully be giving back to the community that had given so much to me.
Q.: How does the program work?
A.: I love the way the program works- we are employed through the BPL system, and kids get to drop in for free whenever and for however long they want to. I love it because kids who otherwise might not be able to pay for tutors, get to access this program.
Q.: What challenges were there in being a mentor?
A.: The drop-in style of the program is probably what presented the most challenges. With every good thing comes drawbacks, and this one was just that I would have loved to get to see and work with the kids more often and consistently.
Q.: What did you learn from mentoring children?
A.: I probably learned more from the kids than they did from me. Each student who came to work with us had different interests and backgrounds, and I loved getting to know them and learn about their lives.
Q.: How long have you been going to the Connolly Library? What does it mean to you to have such a resource in your community?
A.: I have been going to the Connolly Library for as long as I can remember, starting with story time in the kids area and borrowing Maisy picture books when I was learning to read, to going there to work on research projects just this past year. I love that I have been able to both access these resources and help younger kids to do so in the same building. It’s awesome to sort of come full circle in that way.
Q.: What are your future plans?
A.: I plan on attending Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt. next year.