Reach Out! 12/98 Progress Report: I. Anecdotal Report H

Veronica's photo is coming!
Veronica Cottingham

Chemical Engineering undergraduate

NSBE Elementary Mentoring Program

Veronica began as a volunteer with the CCoG Opportunity Center science club program. In typical Reach Out! style, as Grace entered her final semester at UM, she approached Veronica about taking over the coordination of the elementary science clubs and Veronica accepted the challenge and opportunity. She was mentored by Grace during winter 1998 and, by the end of the semester, had taken over choosing lessons, buying materials, communicating with and training volunteers, dealing with transportation, completing weekly evaluations, interacting with the church leadership, and planning an end-of-the-year celebration.

This year, Veronica receives a PNCFD-funded stipend to coordinate the CCoG elementary science clubs. She is working to promote further buy-in among the PreMed and Black PreMed Clubs and also wants to include more opportunities for bonding among volunteers and children, plus some family outings to help them learn about and enjoy available resources like our museums and the Arboretum.

Last year, students participated in a club after being tutored by Church volunteers. These tutors were not too excited about the children taking time out for what appears to be "just play." This year, they see the importance of hands-on science and we now work with tutors in their classrooms to provide even more youngsters with science. We hope that the tutors will eventually become comfortable enough with science activities to take them on—just as they eventually took over the tutoring that had been started by outside volunteers. Some "good problems" Veronica faces are helping the church folks understand that science is often messy, fun, and loud; encouraging volunteers to deal with children who express anger or who lack fundamental reading and math skills; and helping children to take some of their favorite projects to their school classrooms. From fall 1997 through fall 1998, 65 individual volunteers (many working both years) served an average of 19 children in each of 29 elementary club sessions at the Opportunity Center.

As with other Reach Out! coordinators and volunteers, Veronica has recruited her family and close friends. Her sister is a homework teacher at the church and two more friends are tutoring there. Veronica and her sister have also chosen to attend worship services at the CCoG and are developing a support network and group of friends there. They clearly have a stake in that community.

Doris Calvert     -    Pioneer Parent and Mentoring Coordinator

Doris became involved with Reach Out! before her son graduated in 1998. After hearing a presentation about the mentoring program at a school committee meeting, Doris was upset that so few African American teens were involved in the program. She came to the UM office the following week and rolled up her sleeves to help as a volunteer. We have found that when we can hire a community person to develop the site and to work with the staff, children, and parents, we have much more stability and success. Currently, the Ann Arbor Public Schools and Reach Out! (with PNCFD funding) share in paying Doris for 20 hours a week to be the site coordinator. She meets with teachers and counselors to ensure communication with mentors and teens; deals with teens who do not show up for mentoring or have an "attitude" or try to con their mentors into doing their work for them; serves as a liaison with counselors and administrators as mentors express concerns about their teens; and coordinates parent volunteers' supervision of classrooms during mentoring. Another task is to help parents see that their children must want  mentoring—we can't "tell" them to be mentored and then expect them to be happy about it or to try at sessions. Doris is also working on contacting and interviewing parents of mentees to provide work-place tours or job shadowing.

As a side note, Doris has become like a "mother away from home" for several of our Reach Out! coordinators and volunteers. Karyl, for example, often meets with Doris on the weekends at her home and they share a special and close relationship. There are many examples of such "family" relationships among the faculty, staff, students, and volunteers who work with Reach Out!

I. Anecdotal Report
  A. Grace Kim
  B. Alicia Pinderhughes
  C. Debbie McCartney
  D. Marie Tripp, Jim Birnby & Amy Raudenbush, Aarti Raheja
  E. Yamina Acebo, Karyl Shand
  F. Roselle Herrera, John Nees, Fritz Weihe, Andy Rundquist, Reulonda Norman
  G. Cherita Hunter, Faye Booker-Logan
  H. Veronica Cottingham, Doris Calvert
  I. Erika Arias, Rachel Keefer, Srinivas Sridhara
II. Traditional Report
  A. Expand established programs
    1. Tutoring
    2. Wizards for Hands-On Science Activities
    3. Career Exploration
  B. Support for Michigan Mandate and Agenda for Women Goals
  C. Lessons Learned
  D. Next Steps
Appendix A: Volunteer Mentors from Fall 1997 through Fall 1998
Appendix B: Science Club Volunteers from Fall 1997 through Fall 1998
Appendix C: Outreach Sites from Fall 1997 through Fall 1998

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