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Recognizing that getting children excited about science is not enough to guarantee that more of them will become scientists or engineers, our mentoring programs are designed to provide the support services needed for them to continue to experience success with technical classes. Obviously, this includes traditional tutoring, although within a continuing relationship so as to be more effective for teens and more rewarding for mentors. But it also includes helping teens analyze who they are, who and what they would like to become, and how to get there. Such personal discovery and career exploration can provide direction and motivationwhich are absolutely crucial for all kinds of students. Even those with very high ability have difficulty applying themselves if they see no point to it. If they know enough about a field that is of high interest to them, then they are more likely to seek out and succeed in the preparation necessary for work in that field. Moreover, brain research demonstrates that personal relevance is one of two criteria determining whether something will move from short-term memory to long-term storage. Schools and teachers traditionally focus on the first criterion (whether the thing being learned makes sense to the learner), while largely ignoring the second. We firmly believe that seeing relevance and understanding how learning is applied in desirable careers dramatically increases long-term retention. Accordingly, we
|||Recruit and train volunteer mentors for academic support, as well as for career exploration and personal discovery;|
|||Work with high school teachers to implement academic mentoring within classrooms after school;|
|||Help community centers run mentoring programs via volunteer recruitment, orientation services, and database support;|
|||Work with teachers, counselors, and career centers within schools and at community centers to offer workshops guiding teens through personal discovery of interests and talents and through exploration of appropriate career fields and the required preparation for them; and|
|||Help teens develop plans to meet work and/or college goals.|
Mentoring expanded to several new sites during the 1999-2000 year and came to encompass much more deliberate career mentoring. A variety of volunteers from the university and the community made significant time commitments to make this work. Overall, 15 Owen Elementary students participated in a Career Club with five community volunteers and the Owen Learning Community Coordinator; 8 Kiwanis members took 10 high school students through a six-week career mentoring program; Karyl Shand and 3 volunteers took 7 high school girls through a pilot career workshop; 8 volunteers saw 12 children through a free summer camp on campus; 16 volunteer mentors helped 17 teens with academic tutoring at the Neutral Zone; and 34 mentors assisted 36 teens academically at Pioneer High School.
Our theme of "intentional mentoring" was not implemented as we had hoped. Coordinator Karyl Shand believes we may have overprescribed the format of meetings, resulting in an unnaturally forced relationship. In trying to speed up the getting-to-know-you process, we interfered with the flow of genuine interaction. We now assume that a certain awkwardness and time to become acquainted are unavoidableand the reason we moved to continuing relationships in the first place, of course. It takes teens a while to get comfortable enough to reveal weaknesses (like the girl who admitted she was "scared of fractions") and, until that happens, it will not be an effective intervention. The relationship still feels more like tutoring than mentoring to most participants, and will probably remain so until more time is devoted to it.
During the 2000-2001 school year, we will intentionally reach out to more teachers to sponsor mentoring in their rooms. We think it is ideal to offer academic support in classrooms, right after school, with the teachers present, because of the opportunities that offers for cooperation and understanding on all sides. The mentors can see that the teachers care and are competent; the teachers can see the same about mentors and that the students are trying to learn; the students can see that both adults want them to succeed and are willing to work together to make that happen. Coordinator Karyl Shand noted that having math department head Jennie Lombard in her classroom (the site for mentoring for the past two years) was powerful: she answered content questions when mentors could not, she introduced Karyl to other staff members during meetings held in that room, she did some publicizing of the program within the school community and through the PHS newsletter.
Ms. Lombard's retirement, along with the transfer of Principal Bob Galardi, will leave quite a void to be filled. The new principal is from out of state; the assistant principal who will be serving as administrative contact for the program is relatively new to the building; and many of the science and math teachers are new, as well. We plan a special recruiting effort to get up to five teachers involved to the extent of offering their classrooms as mentoring sites. It has taken years to feel known and integrated into the life of the building, and we do not want to lose that.
An anecdote from last fall will illustrate the kinds of intangible benefits of just being thereconsistently and for a long time. One girl who applied for a mentor in November complained to a counselor in December that she had still not been contacted or matched with a mentor. The counselor, after calling the Reach Out!office and getting just an answering machine, complained in turn to the principal about this unresponsiveness. Karyl met with the counselor, explained that she did not answer the phone because she was at Pioneer High every afternoon rather than back on campus, showed her the record of attempted contacts with the teen in question that got no response, noted that she was in the mentoring room partly to serve any students who had not yet been matched with mentors or whose mentors could not make it on a given day, and reminded the counselor that the mentors are all volunteers. This counselor is now an ambassador for the program, and this incident shows the importance of having a coordinator on site to nip potential problems in the bud.
Along the same lines, we plan to focus next year on algebra I and II, geometry, and chemistryas these seem to be the real trouble spots for most of our "customers." They are also real gatekeeper courses, in that success or failure in them can turn a student onto or off the path to higher education in a technical field. Our new plan to schedule mentoring for just Mondays and Wednesdays after classes will also help us focus. That may not meet everyone's schedule, but we hope it will make it easier to recruit teachers willing to be there and interact with mentors and studentsand thus make the entire process more effective.
In a pilot of a new format, supplementary to the original one, a Reach Out!member will coordinate academic mentoring support for the men's basketball team. Its coach, Brian Townsend, is eager to see whether such mentoring can help players who barely achieve the grade point average needed to participate in sports. We would never want to limit our services to such a population but are willing to see if this is another good way to find and serve at-risk students.
Career mentoring at Pioneer continued by Kiwanis Club members through the Key Club (the high school arm of Kiwanis). Mentors take teens through at least two on-line instruments for determining their own interests and strengths. Then, they explore together the career fields that capitalize on such strengths. Once the teen settles on a particular job he or she wishes to explore, the mentor finds an adult who does that job and is willing to sit with the teen for an informational interview orbetter yetto allow the teen to shadow him or her on the job. This intense six-week program is well-reviewed by both mentors and teens. Mentors have tended to repeat with a new mentee each semester, obviously finding the experience worthwhile and rewarding. Some teen feedback:
|We have had a great relationship. He has taught me a lot and helped me to reach my full potential.|
|Very valuable. A great experience. I don't believe anything has compared to it yet.|
The only drawback is that this kind of program can only be offered to a half-dozen or so teens each semester. In order to serve more young people, Karyl and volunteers will be offering a series of personal discovery and career exploration workshops through the PHS Career Center. We think a small-group format can also be effectiveand would perhaps be easier to offer within the school context. We consider it quite significantand evocative of both systemic change and learning community developmentthat the school district has paid Karyl to plan this program expansion this summer, that the school will support it with advertising and computer accommodations, and that the Kiwanis Club will pay her to coordinate it in the fall. All parties obviously know one another well enough to be confident of shared goals and to trust one another to produce results.
Slauson was the original pilot site for Kiwanis career mentoring, offered through Doris Sprentall's health class. Kiwanis Club members were trained by Outreach Director Jeannine LaSovage to help young teens through a process of figuring out what they like to do and whyindependent of the expectations of or need to please teachers and parents. Our primary goal is to help them realize that they enjoy what they are good at, and that finding a career related to their interests and talents is a prescription for a satisfying work life. It is disheartening to see how many have very shallow goals (such as becoming rich and/or famous) and very little understanding of what it would take to reach even those sketchy goals. For example, they have no clue about the preparation, practice, and luck it takes to make it in professional sportsor the brevity of such careers. They also have no realistic idea of the relationship between the expense of a desired life-style and the pay rates in a desired career field. Most have no career ambitions beyond what they know from family experience or prominent examples in the media. They don't appreciate the breadth of options available to them.
That's the bad news; the good news is that they are extremely receptive to the kind of personal discovery and career planning we offer themeven if parents occasionally are not. At least one young man "dropped out" after he began exploring careers other than the one his parents had in mind for him.
This past year, career mentoring was offered both through the health class and through the revived Builders Club (the middle school arm of Kiwanis). In the coming year, it will be augmented by career and personal discovery workshops offered by Karyl Shand and volunteers she will train from the Pioneer High Key Club. This is another of several mentions in this report of Karyl's Kiwanis-funded plans for next year; we consider it a sign of true learning community development that we cannot easily separate programs and sites anymore! Kiwanians are very enthusiastic about the need for and potential of such mentoring:
|I think Kiwanians should become key players, blaze the trail for other service groups.|
|[This is a] very well organized and targeted short package which is very effective.|
Academic mentoring has continued through the summer at the Neutral Zone on a small scale. Sixteen teens were served by 16 mentors during the 1999-2000 year. The participants don't seem especially different from those at Pioneer, but their scheduling needs are: the Zone offers more early evening options. Folks there have handled the program with just occasional support from CUOS staff, for orientation services and database maintenance. They are ready, however, to expand it to serve more teens. Accordingly, they have agreed to pay a CUOS-supervised coordinator to recruit, train, match, support, and evaluate there, as Karyl has done at Pioneer. While this diverges a bit from our more strictly consultant role in the past, we nevertheless consider it evidence of successful learning community development. The more the boundaries blur between partners and programs, the more lasting change we believe we have all achieved.
Career mentoring: Karyl planned and recruited a few volunteers to help her offer a girls' slumber party this summer at the Neutral Zone with a "She's Got Personality" theme. Participants went through the Keirsey personality and temperament indicator questionnaires and did an extensive analysis of their types and the implications for how they learn best, what kind of work environment they would thrive in, what types they should choose for mates, and how they interact with their parents. This was in addition to the typical overnight activities of watching movies, eating junk food, and playing with hair and nails. It did seem an effective way to get teen girls interested in self-analysis and thinking about careers. Several expressed interest in attending follow-up workshops and/or volunteering to help with repeat offerings of this one.
Again, note that Ann Arbor Public Schools supported Karyl during this planning and pilot phase and that the Kiwanis Club will pay her to implement these new offerings in the fall at both Pioneer High and the Neutral Zone.
At the first meeting in November, participants went through the Birkman Career Profile. This questionnaire asks about one's perceptions and responses to everyday, normal events, generating a report on interests and goals, usual style, underlying needs, and behavior under stressplus links to more information on appropriate careers.
Later that month, Quincy Stewart, a jazz musician, made a career presentation sharing the importance of music in education and the pros and cons of today's popular music, and encouraging every child to learn to play some instrument. In studying art in all its variety, participants next looked at underwater photography and talked about careers associated with water and diving. They made books on their findings. In February, Bill Dwyer, photojournalist, came to share his career and many examples of his work. In March, Gary Clark and Dan Casey visited the career club and did an excellent presentation, actually building a frame for a scale-model house. They brought in roofing materials, plumbing equipment, electrical supplies, siding, light fixtures, and faucets, to demonstrate each trade and help the kids do the work as he explained. It was a fascinating hands-on experience for the children. Their final projects involved some life lessons in interpreting pay stubs, learning about payroll deductions for taxes and other expenses, understanding invoices, and balancing checkbooks.
Learning Community Coordinator Susan Shoemaker organized the club, which we consider a good model for other schools.
For a second year, a dozen children were selected from the Ann Arbor subsidized public housing community centers at which we work during the school year for this free summer day camp. Given how exhausted everyone was by last year's pilot program, we reduced the day to run from 9 AM to 4 PM and the session from five days to three. This year, the consensus was that it was too short! Most likely, next year's program will keep the shorter day and run for four days. The schedule of activities was also changed to involve less walking, since a complete campus walking tour in the summer heat was too tiringand "tired kids are not happy kids!"
With two coordinators and six volunteer counselors, there was plenty of individual attention for the children. The theme was Travel Adventure, and each camper was given a passport to have stamped and in which to record discoveries at each destination. After cramming way too many activities into last year's schedule, the coordinators had a good idea of what worked and what did not as they pared the list. There was more emphasis on getting-to-know-you activities and less structured, camp-style games and songs. What we had thought might be boring or old-hat activities were, in fact, new to most of our kids. Major activities we kept included a visit to the bell tower; a tour and hay ride at Dominos Farms; exploration of the Aerospace Building, its displays, and the adjoining Wave Field,plus a plane-building exercise; tour of the Society of Automotive Engineers test cars; canoeing at Gallup Park; tours and interaction with musicians and athletes at Revelli Hall and at Crisler Arena and Michigan Stadium; and swing dancing instruction.
The volunteers were surprised at the depth of the personal connection forged in so short a time. It was really difficult to get the kids to go home on Friday! Once again, counselors were surprised at just how much the children craved touching and attention. One wondered if that weren't the real attraction of the dancing activitythat it made for a lot of carrying and swinging and holding. We hope to have some kind of reunion activity at least once in the fall just for fun. One definite improvement this year was that half of the counselors, in addition to half the campers, were male, since coordinator (and Reach Out!alumna) Aarti Raheja recruited some of her medical school classmates. Last year, several counselors were black; this year, it seemed that we traded that characteristic for gender. This was probably a net positive, as the boys responded very favorably to male counselors. Counselors, who tended to come from a different class background, were struck by the children's threatening "trash talk" to one another and by their familiarity with violent lyrics and raps. Another change this year that improved the experience for all was an orientation picnic for counselors beforehand at Jeannine LaSovage's house. This was an opportunity for strangers to become acquainted, to learn tips and strategies from the coordinators, and to become comfortable with their coming roles. All agreed that this made them more effective.
The other coordinator (and Reach Out!alumna), Debbie McCartney Hamann, noted that things went so well that she and Aarti were constantly afraid they might "break the spell" when it was time to move on to another activity.
This program probably is the least connected of all we do with promoting math- and science-related careers. We consider it important to that goal anyway, because it is one more set of enriching and horizon-widening experiences for children we do science activities with all year. Who knows how much spending time on a college campus or interacting with people from really different backgrounds will impact a child's future?
Mentors had a variety of experiences. Those who have been with us for more than one semester sound like parents of a second or third child: slightly amazed at how different each individual can be. Many felt great satisfaction, others were disappointed, and a few felt that they were not up to the task academically, since they had forgotten so much of the high school subject with which they were helping.
|Things They Liked|
|I have really enjoyed my mentoring experience. When I graduate, I want to teach secondary school, so this is giving me a great opportunity to get a feel for what that may be like. My only concern is that I think it would be more helpful for me to meet with my student more often then once a week. Unfortunately, this semester, my schedule did not allow me to do that.|
|I feel that my mentoring experience has been good. I have learned how to communicate more effectively in teaching and explaining things in a variety of ways so that the person can understand. Plus, it gives me a sense of accomplishment to see someone interested and wanting my help.|
|I had an awesome time with my mentee. [She] had an incredible attitude and was a very hard worker. I was lucky to get such a good student.|
|It's been really great for me. I've been able to meet a lot of people whom I really admire and can share ideas with. The students that I've worked with also give me different perspectives, and they can be really good friends.|
|Reservations They Had|
|I kind of feel like my mentee didn't really need my help, and that I don't really know how to teach someone biology anyway. For me it was always easy to learn the stuffI just heard it and got it, and as a result I can't see how to explain it. Math I can explain, although only the really basic stuff, as I somehow slid through the more advanced levels without really understanding them. I feel like I helped her a little but that she probably could have benefited more from a different mentor.|
|I was just wondering, do mentees volunteer to receive help or does it seem that many of them apply at the wishes of their parents or teachers? [Mine] really didn't seem eager to receive help.|
|I feel pretty frustrated. I volunteered last semester and had a very different experiencemy student was very interested in learning and very considerate of my time to spend with her. This semester I've been told that my student is very forgetful, but I've been stood up three times going out to the school. I've tried calling my student the day before the session, and she tells me she will meet me at the designated time the next day. I've done this two of the three times that she has not shown up. I know this student needs help, but ... if there has been some progress, I am unaware of it.|
|The mentoring experience was too short. I helped her with math and there is just so much to do there! Teachers at Pioneer should know that I am not only supplementing her curriculum but I am very nearly teaching her a majority of things! I fret for the people who don't have this outside source of help. I thought I'd only mentor in the fall, but I am going to stay with her this coming semester, too.|
|I really am enjoying my experiencemeeting the family, hanging out. They're like the little sisters I never had. Suggestion: making the time commitment more. Not a lot can get done in one hour a week.|
|Just thought I'd share this: after we had figured out that algebra 2 problem for [another person's mentee], I thought I was done with that sort of thing for some time. I ended up going back to [my hometown] that night, and my sister asked for help. Turns out she also needed help with linear programming. It's a good thing I stuck around to try and help figure out that problem!|
|It was more challenging this year. I like it, though. It is helping me explain things that I take for granted since I just know them and accept them. It gives me a new perspective on things.|
|It was a rewarding experience. Not only did I feel good about helping someone, it also was a relearning experience.|
|What do you think the children gained from this experience [Camp Discovery]?|
|A life-changing experience; appreciation of university life and university students; several all-new experiences; inspiration to succeed academically; lots of fun. [From adult volunteer helper]|
|<- Previous Section||Table of Contents||Next Section ->|
|A.||Mission, Goals, Strategies||D.||1999-2000 Program Summaries|
|B.||Structure and Funding||III.||Academic and Career Mentoring Programs|
|C.||Summary of Outcomes||A.||Program Description and Goals|
|D.||Five-Year Program Summaries||B.||Program Implementation and Plans|
|I.||Learning Communities: Overview||1.||Pioneer High School|
|A.||Pontiac: Accomplishments and Plans||2.||Slauson Middle School|
|B.||Ypsilanti: Accomplishments and Plans||3.||The Neutral Zone|
|1.||Community Church of God||4.||Owen Elementary School|
|2.||George Elementary School||5.||Camp Discovery|
|3.||Grant Explorations||C.||Anecdotal Evaluations|
|C.||Ann Arbor: Accomplishments and Plans||D.||1999-2000 Program Summaries|
|2.||Career Mentoring||A.||Technology Implementation|
|3.||Academic Mentoring||B.||Usage Statistics|
|4.||Possible New Church Involvement||C.||Anecdotal Feedback|
|5.||Evidence of Systemic Change||V.||Research Experiences for Teachers|
|II.||Science Clubs||A.||Program Description and Goals|
|A.||Program Description and Goals||B.||Program Implementation for RET 2000|
|B.||Program Implementation at Sites||C.||Continuation of RET 1999|
|2.||Community Church of God||A.||Organizational Chart|
|3.||George Elementary School||B.||Scope and Sequence of Goals|
|4.||Owen Elementary School||C.||Web-Site Home Page|
|C.||Anecdotal Evaluations||D.||Partners List|