Mentoring is More Than A Notion

dedicated to Cheryll Y. Greene

10151199_10101184226627142_1065609381_nI once heard someone say that the measure of a good teacher is whether the children of the student, the students of the student, the neighbors and friends of the student know her name.  It was an honor to lead a Brilliance Remastered workshop yesterday about mentorship in remembrance of one of my greatest mentors and chosen mothers: the editor, poet, rabblerouser, teacher, oral historian, archivist, visionary queen Cheryll Y. Greene.

On the Barnard lawn just across the street from the building where I first met Cheryll, we shared our gratitude for the mentors we have and have had.  We mapped our community accountability and talked about the mentors we don’t often acknowledge and the mentoring relationships we need to nurture more.  We did role plays about overcoming the vulnerability of seeking mentoring relationships with people we find to be intimidatingly awesome. We talked about the impact of mentorship, the ways that our mentors can change the way we carry ourselves, the ways we live in our bodies even when they are not physically near us.  I am grateful that Cheryll’s presence, her wit, her advice, her critique and her no-nonsense focus have become a part of my being.   And together in Cheryll’s honor and for our collective clarity we created a poem based on a classic phrase that Cheryll often used to describe the indescribable.  Whether talking about the unstoppable brilliance of Black people, the realities of single motherhood, the intricacies of moving ideas from brains into tangible print, Cheryll would take a deep breath and shake her head saying, “It’s more than a notion.”

The impact of Cheryll Greene and all of our mentors and each of us as we mentor each other is more than a fleeting thought, more than a strategy for advancement, more the sum of the pieces of advice we need, more much much much more than a notion.

Mentoring is More Than a Notion

by the participants in the 2014 Barnard MMUF Workshop

in honor of Cheryll Y. Greene


real talk is more than a notion

eye contact is more than a notion

a smile is more than a notion

nodding your head is more than a notion

being present is more than a notion

asking for help is more than a notion


owning my fabulous is more than a notion

keeping in touch is more than a notion

heeding advice is more than a notion


cooperation is more than a notion

having your back is more than a notion

your gut is more than a notion

saying thank you is more than a notion


making time for tea is more than a notion

deep sighs are more than a notion

silence in conversation is more than a notion

tenderness is more than a notion


we are more

we are more than a notion


*Learn more about transformative workshops from Brilliance Remastered here.

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