The relationship between a mentor and mentee is unique. It’s an asymmetric relationship built on understanding, trust, and altruism. It transcends a biological connection and requires a level of assurance you rarely find between two people.
Matthew Bailey, 23, and Max Langaard, 39, appeared on “Good Morning, America” on June 3, 2019, to celebrate a relationship that began in 2005. Matthew was in the third grade at Manzanita Community School and Langaard was a coach working through Play Works Foundation, an organization partnered with Oakland Unified School District that emphasizes using play to develop leadership skills.
The activities director ,who also coaches basketball, and his mentee were surprised by the GMA staff who gave them tickets to attend a game between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors for the NBA championship finals.
Having observed Matthew’s limited interaction with other kids on the yard, Langaard intuitively knew this was a child he needed to reach out to. Matthew was being continually labeled as a behavioral problem and was being sent out of class. Familiar with the issue from his own experience as a child, Langaard knew how to tap into Matthew’s potential.
Matthew remembers himself as awkward and shy as a third grader. Early on, Matthew struggled in school; he had dyslexia,which went undiagnosed for several years. Compounded by a tumultuous home life from not having consistent parenting Matthew was overwhelmed and had no time to be a kid.
Much of his frustrations were on display at school. Those same behaviors Matthew was being admonished for in class, Coach Langaard was able to utilize and have him excel on the yard. Engaging Matthew with simple responsibilities like putting away equipment and assisting with activities was all that was needed to spark this over a decade-long friendship.
“During a time when everything was going wrong, [Max] was someone who paid attention…” Matthew said. “He created a safe place for me to be a kid and was someone I enjoyed being around.”
From third grade to high school Langaard remained a consistent figure in Matthew’s life. While at Met West High School in Oakland, Matthew d came into his own.
Under Met West curriculum, which supports internships, Matthew was able to work alongside Max as an apprentice coach, or activities leader, back at Manzanita.
During Langaard’s time as an undergrad working on his teaching credential he became inspired to work with youth, and earned a bachelor in physical education. But, through his work with Matthew, Max earned his most valuable life lesson: the commitment of being a mentor.
To acknowledge this partnership, Good Morning America concluded the segment by giving Langaard and Matthew two tickets to the NBA finals game.