Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Meet the Mentor: Ray Guimont


Ray Guimont Photo courtesy of Simona Nerney

Ray Guimont (Photo courtesy of Simona Nerney)

Ray Guimont’s career as a mechanical engineer included 26 years as research and development director for Pirelli/Armstrong with responsibility for tire test labs in its New Haven corporate headquarters and proving grounds in the desert of Pecos, Texas. When Pirelli moved, Guimont joined Schick, traveling around the world for 18 years, researching emerging technologies to augment and extend Schick’s R&D Division, working with Fortune 500 companies, universities, and startup companies—Guimont’s “dream job!”

One of the best things about having an interesting and diverse life is being able to share that experience with students to help them recognize their own potential. In his role as a mentor in the Guilford Mentoring Program, Guimont uses his life lessons to guide young people in finding their own dreams.

His life was changed dramatically by a family member suggesting that he might “dream higher” during his high school years with the question: “What do you really want to be?” Guimont hopes to help his mentees find the way to answer that question for themselves.

Committed to giving back to his community after retirement, Guimont felt that youth mentoring would be a natural for him. However, he found that mentoring young, developing children was different than the goal-oriented career mentoring of his professional world. Guimont has found the key to mentoring students is to spend a few sessions getting to know them to discover their unique interests and talents, and then go from there.

In his two years with Guilford Youth Mentoring, Guimont has mentored five students and enjoyed the challenge of each age. Some of his favorite experiences are supporting his elementary mentee’s creativity by building robotic arms, making flying birds from cardboard, and learning origami from his student. To Guimont, learning from his mentees is one of the joys of spending time together.

With his 8th grader, Guimont spent time evaluating video games, creating an original video game, and then learning about college programs and requirements in this field. They also enjoyed just talking and having lunch together.

At the high school level, Guimont has played football, flown a small helicopter, offered an opportunity for a student to intern on the PBS show This Old House, and worked on video instruction in guitar fabrication.

Guimont emphasizes that it’s all these seemingly small experiences that result in big rewards for both mentor and student.

Although it’s not easy to evaluate results in mentoring students, Guimont says he’s not looking for instantaneous feedback, but hoping that he’s doing some good. By offering advice, a listening ear, encouragement, and a little TLC, the kids respond positively, with a simple “Thanks” and smiles, more than payment in full.

For those who might consider mentoring, Guimont’s list of the best things about mentoring: being there for a student in need, providing help in any form they desire, having fun doing things together, sharing one’s experiences, learning the younger generation’s point of view, and last the downright good feeling of having helped someone reach their goals.

Guimont also enjoys woodworking, wine-making, and organic gardening at Dudley Farm , where he serves on the board.

Guimont volunteers with St. George’s Food Salvage Ministry, retrieving fresh fruits and vegetables from vendors at Long Wharf to deliver to local food banks, soup kitchens, and churches. His favorite thanks is the hugs he gets from chefs in the kitchens. He also “loves getting hugs from his grandkids,” he said.

To find out more about becoming a mentor or how to support the program, call Guilford High School at 203-453-274l, ext. 7; email ottl@guilfordschools.org; or visit guilfordmentoring.org.

Barbara Solomon is the founder of Guilford Youth Mentoring, a school-based mentoring program the works with students in all Guilford schools.

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