Building a Relationship, Trust, and Confidence

By Tom Behrens

Houston’s own Reid Ryan will headline Katy ISD’s KEYS Kickoff event, an annual salute to those who mentor Katy ISD students through the district’s KEYS Mentoring Program.  The event is slated for Friday, September 16, 2022. 8 – 9:30 AM in the Leonard E. Merrell Center.  Honored guests include the district’s KEYS mentors who dedicate one hour per week to a Katy ISD student on the brink of success.

Reid Ryan is a sports executive that has worked extensively in professional baseball for over 20 years.  Ryan currently serves as the CEO of Ryan Sanders Baseball after rejoining the organization that he founded following a successful seven-year tenure as President of Business Operations for the Houston Astros.  He enjoys giving back and has served on numerous non-profit boards and has helped raise more than $1,000,000 for charity.  Ryan and his wife, Nicole, are proud parents of one son, Jackson, and two daughters, Victoria, and Ella.

The KEYS Kickoff provides networking and encouragement for current mentors and education for prospective mentors.  Guests include those who mentored the previous school year, those who have applied to become a mentor and potential mentors.  Tables are hosted by campus KEYS program managers who lead an informative discussion to benefit all.  This year, our program and discussion will highlight “Portrait of a Mentor,” emphasizing what it means to be a member of our KEYS family and how it can change a young life.

The KEYS Mentoring program, a Katy ISD Partners in Education program, matches a caring adult with a student 30-45 minutes once a week during the school year to build a relationship, trust, confidence and more.

Bob Bryant and his wife, Felice have been mentors in the KEYS program for many years. Both are former Katy ISD educators, now retired. Bob was at one time the executive director of the Katy ISD Fine Arts Department, and director of the “Roarin’ Band From Tigerland,” the Katy High School Marching Band. He also found time to act as a mentor in the KEYS program at in three different elementary schools. He remembers one student he mentored from the time he met him in an elementary school and continued with him all the way through to his graduation from high school.

Felice Bryant, Bob’s wife, retired in 2013. She taught Kindergarten and First Grade students. She mentored a male student from his fourth grade through graduation, and a female student since First Grade. She shared that at first, students don’t talk much. She described it as a slow, non-threatening, time, to try and establish communication with them. She tried to engage them in board games to try to get them talking. After time, the boy would ask her every time when it was time for him to return to class, if she was coming back again next week.

Mentee student family backgrounds are not always one stereotype, such as single parent. It could be several children in a large family, one child, by temperament, withdrawn, not joining in, feeling left out. The parent wants a program where the child would get some individual attention. Also, the goal of a KEYS mentor is not to be a teacher, helping get homework completed, but as an individual friend that the student could talk about things of interest to them such as sports, music, toys; build a friend. Also, very important, a KEYS mentor’s role is not to be a teacher, or tutor, to make sure the student finished his or her homework or other school assignments. “The primary focus is on relationship building rather than tutoring, although we’ve found that increased student academic success often occurs,” said Cydney Wright, KEYS Mentor Program. A mentor is there to help a student to develop a positive image of their lives.

KEYS mentors are guides, teachers, coaches, listeners, role models, advocates, cheerleaders, and more. He or she meets once a week for thirty to forty-five minutes during the school day. KEYS is offered at every Katy ISD campus, each of which has a staff liaison who oversees the school’s program.  All mentors must make a one school year commitment to a student and complete the comprehensive KEYS mentor application and pass the required background check.

KEYS Partners in Education creates an opportunity to connect those students with someone who can encourage them and make a difference. Each year, hundreds of students wait for a mentor.

For more information, please contact Katy ISD Partners in Education, Cydney Wright, (281) 396-2468,