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Northern Davidson County couple find joy as mentors

Spotlight on Mentoring – December

Sylvia and Lynn Upchurch with T.J. (left) and Chandler (right). The Upchurch's have been working with their fifth-grade mentees since last March.

Lynn and Sylvia Upchurch are getting used to losing at checkers.

“If I don’t keep my eyes on him, he beats me,” said Lynn Upchurch, considering his next move carefully before reaching out to slide a black game piece into an adjacent square.

“They teach us how to play,” laughed Sylvia Upchurch without looking away from the checker board in front of her.

Their opponents, Chandler and T.J., are both fifth graders at Hasty Elementary School in Thomasville. The four have been bonding over weekly, post-lunch games since March.

“Our church (Shady Grove United Methodist, where Lynn is the senior pastor) had brought backpacks of school supplies to Hasty and we learned that they were in need of adults to be lunch buddies,” said Sylvia Upchurch, who works as a nurse at Forsyth Medical Center. “What began as an opportunity to help a child has become a huge blessing in our lives.”

The Upchurch’s say visiting Chandler and T.J. at Hasty is the highlight of their week.

“We can’t wait to get to school each week to spend time with the boys. Last year they were in separate classes but this year they are in the same room so all four of us eat together,” said Lynn Upchurch. “We read, play games and work puzzles, but their favorite thing is checkers.”

Asked how it made him feel to be able to beat an adult at a game like checkers, Chandler grinned and said it felt “very good.”

Chandler (front left) and T.J. (back right) are fierce competitors when it comes to checkers, the Upchurch's say.

“Spending this kind of time together gives us the opportunity to find out what is going on in their lives, to support them with tough issues and to celebrate the great times in their lives,” said Sylvia Upchurch. “Recently we were able to attend their D.A.R.E. graduation and we were so proud of both of them.”

According to Sylvia Upchurch, she and her husband are two of seven total members of Shady Grove who serve as mentors with Communities In Schools.

“Being a CIS mentor is definitely a way you can impact the life of a child, but the blessings you receive in return are beyond measure,” she said.


CIS is part of the nation’s largest stay-in-school network, helping young people stay in school, successfully learn, and prepare for life by connecting needed community resources with schools. Founded in 1997, CIS of Lexington/Davidson County currently serves 23 schools in both the Lexington City and Davidson County School systems.  If you would like to become a Lunch Buddy and mentor a student in need, please download a Mentor Application today.

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