I got this email from staffers Linda Oto and Cheryl Strike yesterday:
January is National Mentoring Month, and as part of the celebration Connected Kids is participating in I Am a Mentor Day via Facebook. The first-ever I Am A Mentor Day takes place via Facebook on January 11.
We’re asking mentors on Facebook to tell a story or anecdote about what it means to be a mentor or how being a mentor has impacted you.
Connected Kids, a program of Northfield Public Schools Community Services, currently supports 96 active matches and has served nearly 200 youth since its inception 7 years ago. Over that time, over 88 percent of youth have demonstrated improvement in academic performance and over 87 percent have improved attendance.
Chad Dougherty (my mentee) and I went snowshoeing at the east end of the Cannon River Wilderness Area this afternoon. I wanted to show him the site of where Henry Fisk, the Rice County hermit, lived. In the small protected meadow adjacent to where the Fisk cabin was located, Chad dug down to the ground. You can see that the snow is about 3 feet deep.
Up on the bank just south of the footbridge over Fisk Creek, Chad spotted this area where the water is flowing out of the ground. It appears to be a new flow because the grass sod is still visible as it turns to muck.
For the CO2 races, each student shapes a block of wood into a car body shape, drilling holes for the axles and the CO2 cartridge. Considerable sanding, sealing, and painting in involved. Students attach two eyehooks to the bottom of each car so that a string can be used as a guide to keep them on the track.
On the day of the race, student cars are paired up to race against each other but the key metric is the elapsed time for each car. Mr. Biegert inserts the CO2 cartridges and a student triggers a mechanism that punctures the seal on the cartridges and sends them down the track at 20-50 MPH, taking about a second to finish. Finishing times are automatically recorded to a computer and displayed on the screen, with rankings likewise updated after each race.
It was quite an exciting event to watch and clearly exciting for the students. Here are 6 more photos and a 10-second video clip of Chad’s race.
I’m continuing with my same middle school mentee (great kid!) this year and had him take this photo on Thursday of me with (left) Northfield Middle School mentoring coordinator Margaret Colangelo and District Mentoring Specialist Cheryl Strike.
And tomorrow (Sunday, Oct. 4), the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota will be providing a mentor training, 4-6 pm at St Olaf. (See the flyer (PDF), but there has been a room change. The training will still be in Buntrock Commons but in Room 144. That room is on the second floor, down the hall and around the corner from the snack bar.)
In 2001, two third-grade girls from Northfield had a dream.
They would go to college together and be roommates. There was only one problem: Stephanie was a blond-haired, blue-eyed Midwesterner, and Alejandra was Hispanic. Back in 2001, only 18% of Northfield’s Latino population passed the Minnesota Basic Skills Test (BST), a requirement to graduate from high school.
The odds of the girls’ dream being realized looked grim.
That’s not the case anymore though, thanks to the efforts of TORCH, a nonprofit program designed to improve the high school graduation and college enrollment rates of Latino, ESL, and any other would-be first-generation college students in Northfield.
The name stands for “Tacking Obstacles and Raising College Hopes.”
“Students see kids that look like them and are like them making it,” said Beth Berry, coordinator of TORCH at Northfield High School and one of the program’s founders. “And they say, ‘I know her, I know her.’”
How can adults help with this problem of drug use? Going on a blog might teach you a few things, but [it] won’t fix a problem. The number one thing an adult in this community can do is BECOME A MENTOR. MALES MENTORS ARE ESPECIALLY NEEDED. This is not a lot of time and many studies have shown that this is very effective — life-changing effective. You can go here for more information.
I will end by saying that focusing on punishment does not equal care… Most users know there could be consequences and use anyway. Punishment is not very effective. Realistic education and forming good relationships is more so. So once again, to those who care, please check out this link on becoming a mentor. You can really make a difference by becoming a positive influence on someone’s life and prevent some of the things we have been reading about lately. Talk minus action equals nothing.
Josh’s words hit home and so I decided to check out the six different mentoring programs that make up the Northfield Mentoring Coalition. (Photo above is from their booth at this summer’s Northfield Night Out.)
One to one relationships between students and caring adults. Matches meet at school before, during or after school hours and continue through the summer. Mentors provide academic support, encouragement, friendship and fun.
I liked the idea that the students and their parents are invited to participate.
In early August, I finally got around to making an appointment with the Connected Kids staffers, Mentoring Specialist Cheryl Strike (left in left photo) and Coordinator Linda Oto. They conducted a very thorough and fun interview, had me fill out a decent sized stack of forms, and told me to make an appointment at the Northfield Police Department to get fingerprinted. Having been arrested and fingerprinted earlier in my career, I was eager for another, less stressful experience. Piece o’ cake! (Not to worry about those rubber gloves on the police department staff person. And no, I don’t have any missing/amputated digits, despite that right photo.)
I passed all my background checks (statute of limitations must have expired on that old misdemeanor!) so then it was just a matter of waiting till school started this fall before Linda and Cheryl contacted me about the student they wanted to match me with.
Yesterday, I met my mentee for the first time. I think we hit it off and I’m looking forward to our weekly get-togethers.