TeamMates of the Month: Leland and Kevin

Learning Together

Leland and Kevin kicked off their mentoring relationship at the Irving Rec Center learning a new skill – playing ping pong. 

“We were playing ping pong, pool and some air hockey,” Leland said. “Basically, me and Kevin were getting used to playing ping pong because it was my first time playing.”

Leland was in sixth grade then, and learning something new was a good way to put his mind at ease. 

“I was pretty nervous because it was my first ever TeamMate. I was happy and nervous at the same time,” he said. 

Now the pair often meets in the library – another place where eighth-grade student Leland can feed this curious mind. 

“He’s into anime,” Kevin said. “That’s not the only thing. If something’s interesting, he will research it and learn more about it. He knows the librarians quite well.”

Leland also has several niche interests and loves to be creative. 

He recently helped design a T-shirt for the track team at Irving.

“No one asked me to do it,” Leland said. “I just wanted to do it, because I want to sew prom dresses in the future and wedding dresses and all that.” 

Kevin said that Leland’s creativity extends to their pool game too.  

“We’re creative. We don’t play pool exactly as it should be played,” the mentor added. 

Kevin credits mentoring with getting him out of his retirement bubble. He currently teaches a class at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  His mentoring relationship has also influenced his classroom. He shared with his students how to build vocabulary using a game he first played with Leland. 

“It’s called Blurt! You have the definition and you have to come up with the word,” Kevin said.  “He likes to play that. I love words and he must love words too, which bodes well for him.”

Leland takes pride in knowing he has also impacted Kevin’s life in just two years. Kevin has been equally influential in his life, including bringing him out of his shell. 

“When I started sixth grade, I didn’t want any teachers to talk to me, but when Kevin came, I wanted to talk to everybody after that,” Leland added. 

The pair plans to continue their bond as Leland transitions into Southeast High School, which is the same school Kevin graduated from 50 years ago. 

A team of learners connected through TeamMates. 

To learn more about TeamMates or how to become a mentor, visit the organization's website at

Published: May 2, 2023, Updated: May 3, 2023

Leland and Kevin are May's TeamMates of the Month.