Words from a Mentor: Introducing a way to link up to the network of icouldbe.org mentors on LinkedIn

From Harry Falber, icouldbe.org mentor:

I realized recently, that as imperfect as I am as a mentor, there may be a few children out there who, via icouldbe.org, took a very first step into moving out of their mental, educational, and personal environment that I could make a tiny difference with. What was missing for me was the world of mentors that I knew was there, but I couldn’t see, hear, or feel – yet I knew that I was a part of. And then I realized there was a way to do that more easily than on the website, and more relevant and action-oriented than a Facebook friend page.

I started with icouldbe.org while I was with Hallmark Cards. Always too busy for any real time to sit back and do this job at icouldbe well. Then I started traveling on business and I stopped as I was never in the same time zone for too long. And then I realized I missed something about icouldbe.

It was about the fact (maybe even an epiphany) that with even a few words to a student who somehow got into the icouldbe world – chances are, on his or her own with a gentle push and recognition from a teacher, could make a difference. Maybe. But it was a maybe that I didn’t want to ignore. So I opted back in recently. And I felt good about it. And happy with myself. But more importantly, I realized that maybe our conversation online and my small messages of encouragement might, just might make a difference to some child I only knew through the opaque lens of the Internet. Which is why I am back.

I’m not a teacher. I’m not even highly educated with multiple degrees. And it’s arguable whether I have ever done enough to give back to the society and world I live in. Yet this small, unknown community of mentors can and does. After all, why are the kids online in this program?  Something, somewhere in their minds clicked. Someone overworked, underpaid, under-supported, and most likely having to put their own money into supplies for education, had the opportunity to see something in a child in his or her classroom, and then had the opportunity to throw a lifeline, in the hopes that a little encouragement could go a long way, one-on-one, when as a teacher he or she is 24, 25, or 26-on-one, and perhaps with little backup at home.

I know I am not the perfect mentor, but I can get better.

It dawned on me, that one way to get better is feeding off the “wins” of other mentors and the energy of a group or cloud of mentors. Of course, I could jump back on to our website (sometimes pretty snail like, but there are $$$ issues out there that are better put to use in the field then in tech upgrades), but I could also jump on a social network or a business network like LinkedIn to connect with other mentors and feed off the collective energy and spirit. And that is why I started a group on LinkedIn for member mentors. It’s also a good way to let the international business community begin to learn about icouldbe.org.

LinkedIn, which is a pretty big and easy-to-access network (growing by leaps and bounds and business-focused), seemed like a great place. I’ve been on it for years – since it was beta. This is a benefit to icouldbe, and to its mentees as we could enroll many more mentors as well as have an ongoing dialogue with each other. I spoke to Kate and Michelle about this, and they seem to agree. If you go to LinkedIn.com, it’s easy to sign up, And who knows, chances are you’ll find a lot of connections you didn’t know you had – with less degrees of separation than Kevin Bacon.

This blog is an open invitation to visit LinkedIn, join (it’s free), and then join the icouldbe.org group. Right now, it’s two – the executive director Kate, and me. I’m looking forward to it including many more, and I’m looking forward to connecting with all of you who I don’t know….yet. And when I am in the ” I am a lousy mentor” mode, knowing you are there will help me get out of it.

Please drop me an e-mail if you’d like to know more. See you around the Internet soon.


A big thanks to all our hardworking mentees!

We recently found out that March is National Honor Society Awareness month – a time to recognize superior scholarship and promote intelligent learning. This makes us think about the great work we see everyday from the students of icouldbe.org. Our mentees are working hard, and should be recognized for it!

Our goal at icouldbe is to inspire students through mentoring to reach their full capability and beyond – whether their dreams are making it into Honor Society, getting a good grade on an exam, or applying to their first choice college. We want these students to not only maximize their learning potential but also to have fun along the way. We are truly moved by the dedication brought forth by our mentees on a daily basis and for that we say – THANKS!

Public Agenda gets it: Recent report examines the need for more guidance in college and career searches

An ongoing report by the Public Agenda, prepared for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is examining the need for changes in the U.S. education system to improve dropout rates. One of the major factors they identified is the incredibly high guidance counselor-to-student ratio – simply put, there aren’t enough counselors available to give the proper attention to high school students as they look towards college and careers.

This is a major concern at icouldbe.org – that’s why it’s so important for us to introduce our program to more and more schools. Mentors at icouldbe can dedicate the time that these students need and deserve when they have questions about their future, and also take them through a curriculum that will help them with applications, resumes, and the transition they’re about to embark on.

To quote the article,

“In the end, however, it seems obvious to us that young people who are completing high school and aspiring to go to college deserve better advice. At the very least, they deserve the opportunity to talk seriously with adults—counselors, teachers, family members, and others—who take a strong personal interest in their futures and have the time and skill to guide them through this period of decision and change.”

(Citation: http://www.publicagenda.org/canigetalittleadvicehere/whytacklethisproblemnow?qt_active=1)

Help us spread the word on how icouldbe.org can provide a way for students to communicate and work directly with the adults that this article is calling to action – mentors who take a personal interest in their future and can give the time and skill that they need in order to succeed.

Photos from the NAIS conference and the Educating for Careers Conference

Here are photos from the conferences we’ve been attending in California over the last few weeks!

This is at the Educating for Careers Conference - two teachers from LaQuinta High School. On the left is Irv Leifer, who runs the Public Service Academy; Jon Adler is on the right.
This is icouldbe's Elizabeth Moran (left) with Arianna Huffington at the NAIS conference.

2010 Educating for Careers Conference

icouldbe.org is sharing the possibilities of online mentoring with our school partners and fellow educators at the Annual Educating for Careers Conference, presented by the California Career Pathways Consortia and the California Partnership Academies.

We began the conference yesterday in California’s Orange County, where icouldbe led a roundtable discussion about creating mentoring programs with impact. We were joined by teacher Julieanne Reall and two of her students from Anaheim High School’s Multimedia Computer Technology Academy, who shared their icouldbe experience with other teachers from across California.  Maria Wright, Assistant Principle at La Quinta High School shared that her students are so enthusiastic about icouldbe.org that they have a hard time waiting a week to read comments and feedback from their mentors!

We’re very excited to be a part of this meaningful collaboration and greatly anticipate sharing icouldbe’s story and program, as well as learning more about the amazing work of Academy teachers and students.  If you’re attending, come on by and meet icouldbe’s Elizabeth Moran at booth 504.