Happy International Mentoring Month!

When you’re passionate about something, one of the most rewarding things you can do is acquire a mentor.

A good mentor is someone who can act as a positive influence by encouraging or educating you once you have taken responsibility for your own growth in a field. Some seek out mentors, for others it unfolds naturally. For me, all it took was one simple invitation.

Professor Stephen Pagano was in his last years as a professor at Freeport High School. Throughout his time as a professor, this man had built a legacy of love for choral singing within our small community that extended far beyond what I could have fathomed as a student.

When I first met this man, his energy and passion blew me away. Never had I met an adult so dedicated to their craft. It shook me to my core. This was a man I could really learn from. From elementary school up through higher education, the only thing I wanted was to sing. As a freshman in high school, It was only natural for me to take my passion more seriously. As soon as I was able, I auditioned for my school’s 9th grade Select Chorale, and was accepted. Unfortunately, freshman did not have access to Stephen Pagano as a professor. He only taught the upper level music classes. One day, I was very fortunate to have him as a substitute for the 9th grade select chorale. On that same day, he extended my class an invitation to sit in on one of his classes. I was the only one to attend, but by the end of the class, I was in tears. Never had I heard such a wonderful choir in person. I decided from that day on, that I would spend every lunch period sitting in on his classes. When he saw how serious I was, he made me copies of all of the music his groups were working on. I learned alongside the older students diligently. By the middle of the year, the group decided to officially call me an apprentice. By the end of the year, I was the first freshman in the history of Select Chorale to be invited to perform with the older students.

A good mentor will provide you with room to grow and opportunities to thrive. They can allow you access to opportunities only they know about and can fast track your growth. On top of that, a good mentor can be a friend an inspiration for a lifetime.

I will never forget the respect and kindness shown to me. As a young person, having a mentor gave me the confidence to be more independent in pursuit of anything that fueled my spirit.

At Center Stage, we aim to inspire each and every one of our students and provide them with every opportunity to find their musical passions. Today, we would like to celebrate all mentors who continue to shape us as we create our own legacies. Please feel free to share stories about your personal mentors in the comments. Happy National Mentorship Month!

-Melanie Ramos

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