Samantha Cook and Bennet England and Mikel Weatherspoon
IKE Ignition, Eisenhower High School, Lawton
Three Eisenhower High School graduating seniors, Samantha Cook, Bennett England and Mikel Weatherspoon, are being recognized for their longtime leadership and commitment as mentors for IKE Ignition, a program which helps freshman acclimate to high school and instills the importance of service.
Samantha Cook teaches weekly lessons to freshman mentees on life skills, study habits and coping mechanisms. In addition, she is the lead mentor on the IKE Ignition Public Relations Committee, organizing a schedule for social media, photography and other publicity.
“Samantha is the epitome of what mentor means – kind, forgiving, and patient,” said program sponsor Michelle Churchwell. “She holds incredibly high standards for herself and those she mentors. While she understands the struggles and challenges that freshmen may encounter, she does not allow them to use these struggles as an excuse or crutch. She has overcome her own struggles and passes the lessons she's learned on to her freshmen.”
Cook says mentoring has given her valuable skills for adulthood, such as working with others and gaining empathy and love for community.
As a freshman, Bennett England felt he didn’t’ have many friends and didn’t fit in at school. Through IKE Ignition, he formed a bond with his mentors who helped him see how amazing he truly is. Now, England is passing on the same wisdom and love he received in the program.
“Bennett is a wonderful mentor to all of his freshmen, but he seems to have the most impact on students who are struggling with depression and anxiety,” Churchwell said. “He speaks from the heart about his own experience to help them find the courage to ask for help and tell their parents or counselors if they are struggling.”
Churchwell described Bennett as the “rock” of the program who is consistent, dependable and empathetic. Bennett loves one-on-one mentoring with students who might be struggling academically or emotionally. “He is at his best when he is talking individually to a student who does not seem to have anyone else.”
Mikel Weatherspoon has a fun and effervescent personality that enables him to connect with mentors that others are unable to reach. “He is a constant source of fun and energy,” said Churchwell, who described him as the quintessential funny guy. “He has a smile and personality that makes his freshmen feel instantly at ease and comfortable with him. He truly loves and accepts all people.”
Weatherspoon is the lead mentor and founder of the teambuilding committee – a group that provides support and camaraderie among fellow mentors. He saw that mentors were giving of themselves and forming relationships with freshman mentees, but there was a need for upperclassman mentors to do the same for each other.
Weatherspoon also shines when he has a microphone in hand, leading whole-group opening and closing sessions. “Mikel brings energy, humor and warmth to these events and reaches all 300 freshmen,” Churchwell added.
About the Program: Funded through the Lawton Public Schools Foundation and Lawton Community Foundation, IKE Ignition is designed to assist incoming freshmen with acclimation to high school by matching them with peer mentors in 10th through 12th grades.