When new board members join the team, matching them with mentor board members helps them and the board in the time of transition. A “mentor” is a designated, experienced board member the new board member can contact to ask questions and to accompany him/her to some of the training. The questions that arise may revolve around board processes, members’ roles away from the board table, and/or providing a history regarding current issues. Not only is matching a new member with an experienced member-mentor an opportunity to make training more relevant and specific to the particular district, but also it allows board members to get to know each other better.
Experienced board members need to remember to mentor new board members even though meetings and issues may seem to be running smoothly. Stopping to make certain everyone understands the process is important. Board members should remind each other to slow down and describe the processes currently in place — doing so also helps when communicating to the community and staff. In addition, experienced board members need to be careful in using acronyms because not all new members will be familiar with them.
Finally, all board members should keep in mind the emotional commitment required to be a board member and should be supportive of one another.