Category Archives: Education and Schools

Thank Your Mentor Day: California Teacher Thanks icouldbe Mentors

On behalf of Hoover High School’s Academy of Information Technology (AOIT), I would like to wish all of the mentors in the icouldbe program a happy National Mentoring Month, and extend our thanks for all the time you put in helping our students. Our Academy has been part of the icouldbe program for over five years, and each year we have had 80-100 students participate in the program. As a College and Career Technical Educator, the icouldbe program has been instrumental in helping me to ensure that my students have a solid background in what it takes to choose, prepare for, and be successful in a career. The icouldbe curriculum has helped open doors for my students to view the larger world outside of their immediate community. The activities they complete have the greatest benefits in the areas of  communication, research, and planning.

Only a small percentage of my students are native English speakers. Most are currently English Learners, and many others are reclassified as English proficient. This makes communication, both verbal and written, a challenge. icouldbe offers these students a way to work on their language skills, especially learning to move from a casual language register to a more professional one. Likewise, students are able to improve both their academic and professional vocabulary which eventually helps them both in resume writing and in interviewing skills. The online and anonymous nature of the mentoring program helps these students to get comfortable quickly as they are less likely to feel they are being judged or put on the spot when they are not face to face with someone they do not know. This often helps the mentees build a better working relationship with their mentors more quickly.

Besides being non-native English speakers, the majority of my students are likely to be the first person in their families to go to college.  Having no experience in their families to draw on makes the varied experiences and stories of the mentors extremely valuable.  In addition, the goal setting activities, college research tools, and planning guides provided in the curriculum help to make the decision to go to college more real for the students.  Further, there are excellent tools for exploring and preparing for careers.  One of the beginning skills that the students often have not previously completed is resume writing.  They all start out with a very basic template to complete the exercise.  Over the course of the year, they take these barebones resumes and learn to add “power” words and language to them to make them better.  Many students begin to take up volunteer opportunities to add to the experience sections on their resumes as they learn how important this can be.

Mentors, although I know working online as opposed to working face to face has some distinct advantages, I also wish you could personally see the difference you make in many of these students’ lives.  You may not see it in their writing, but I have all the students complete an oral “exit interview” about their icouldbe experience.  The last question I ask each of them is what they would say to you if they met you face to face, and they invariably want to thank you for taking some time out of your lives to work with them.  I would like to thank you as well.

-Bryan Voeltner, Hoover High School in San Diego, California

Photo Credit: Ben Fredericson on Flickr's Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Ben Fredericson on Flickr’s Creative Commons

Bryan Voeltner is a teacher at Hoover High School in San Diego, California. He has worked there for 18 years and helped to found its small learning community, the Academy of Information Technology.

Advertisements

National Mentoring Month Spotlight: Bronx Teacher Shares icouldbe Experience

MS 254 in Bronx, New York would like to thank icouldbe for allowing our students to be a part of such an enlightening program for a second year. We have evolved from 30 students participating last year to 175 students participating this year. icouldbe provides an opportunity to empower students to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. There is not one fix for any student when trying to develop a connection between school and the future accomplishments within an adolescent mind, but icouldbe is the right fit for many students in our program. The students are developing skills that will allow them to make informed decisions about the path their future will take.

Students are reading, writing, and thinking about real life desires and possibilities they used to only associated with others. With the help of icouldbe, the students can now place themselves in those roles. Mentors are explaining how they use math and science as well as language and social studies in their daily lives and in their careers. Based on the conversations students are having with their mentors, the students are developing new ideas.

The mentors are phenomenal! If you are a mentor reading my blog post, let me thank you for giving your time and care to your mentees. I appreciate your answering their posts with feedback that helps them formulate goals that are attainable and make a connection between academics and the student’s chosen path. I was really impressed when one of our mentors reached out with concern about their mentee who had lost interest in posting. I was able to locate the student and discuss her mentor’s concern. Before, she felt like it was just a school commitment, but now she knows how much her mentor truly cares about her, her wellbeing, and her success.

icouldbe helps our students think about their dream and see their dream in order to live it.

-Ms. Frazier, MS 254 in Bronx, New York

Ms. Frazier is an educator from Conway, South Carolina currently teaching in the Bronx. She has 24 years of experience and is a life-long learner.Image

Exciting updates from icouldbe

The new school year is well underway, and we’d like to take this opportunity to give a great big welcome to all of our mentees, mentors teachers, and program and corporate partners!! This year is already one of our most exciting ever and the support from our entire online community is incredibly inspiring.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

  • This year we will serve 3,400 students in the icouldbe.org program – that’s a 60% increase over last year!
  • 2,500 mentors have volunteered to work with our mentees.  Donating 1 hour per week means that, together, we will provide more than 75,000 hours of mentoring, life-coaching and support to students who need us most!  Thank you all for your time, commitment and dedication – we couldn’t do it without you.
  • Exciting new partnerships are also underway this year. We’re happy to announce that the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), NYSE Euronext, Aspire to LEAD in partnership with  AT&T’s Aspire Mentoring Academy, and the Fund for NYC Public School’s Young Men’s Initiative will sponsor 1,165 new mentees this year.  In addition, E*Trade has renewed it’s partnership with icouldbe.org for the 8th year, sponsoring 650 students around the country.  Also, more than 1,000 students from the California Partnership Academies will also be served to meet their mentoring mandate.
  • Columbia Business School’s Small Business Consulting Group has selected icouldbe.org for a consulting project that will help us reach an even broader national audience so that we can continue to serve thousands of new students every year.

More new partnerships and exciting projects are coming up soon and we’ll have much more to share over the coming months, so stayed tuned.  In the meantime, we’re here for you and always welcome your ideas and advice, so please be in touch.

We wish all of you a very successful year and hope that all of our mentee mentor matches prove to be highly fulfilling experiences for everyone.  We look forward to providing the very best e-mentoring program and are grateful beyond words for the support of our entire community!

Kate Schrauth

Executive Director

icouldbe.org

This ‘Thank You’ means the most of all

During the 2011-2012 school year, there were a few classrooms of students that went above and beyond with their work in the icouldbe.org curriculum.

Below is a photo of one of these classrooms. These students on average completed over 26 activities in the curriculum, and truly showed dedication and hard work to complete the units, work with their mentors and get the most out of the program. We absolutely love to see these students take advantage of what icouldbe.org has to offer!

Here’s what one mentee had to say about his work with the program:

“The online mentoring program icouldbe.org has been a great help to me because all the units have shown me something I didn’t know. I especially learned from the unit that deals with money. This unit showed me how loans work and how to manage a credit card if I even choose to get one. My mentor was a great help in giving me advice and establishing my future goals. icouldbe.org is a well rounded online mentoring program that I enjoyed being a part of.” 

We decided to thank this classroom of students with a celebratory pizza party – and here’s how they thanked their mentors and icouldbe.org in return!

There’s nothing like a giant Thank You to help you remember that these students are the reason we do what we do. (And there’s nothing like a good slice of pizza, either.)

We need your votes!

Remember a few weeks ago, when we posted about our partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a new eMentoring program for Aboriginal youth?

Well, that very same program has been selected as 1 of 16 finalists for the Changemakers Initiative: Inspiring Approaches to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning.

The most exciting part is that the awards are given based on community opinion. This means that voting determines who receive the awards. This is an great way to involve the public and have them acknowledge amazing work in their community.

Please show your support by voting online for eMentoring BEFORE March 21, 2012.

Also, please spread the word to your co-workers, friends, family and your social networks. We hope you take this opportunity to help icouldbe.org and UBC achieve another eMentoring milestone!

TO VOTE, simply:

–          Visit: http://www.changemakers.com/fnmi-learning/finalists#tab-section

–          Scroll down to find “Aboriginal eMentoring BC” in the list of 16 finalists and click on the checkmark

–          You will be asked to create an account by filling in some basic info OR by signing in via your Facebook account (both are quick and easy)

–          If you create an account, you will get an email requesting you to confirm your vote by clicking on a URL

Please also pass on this message and post the voting link on your Twitter or Facebook: http://www.changemakers.com/fnmi-learning

Thanks!!

icouldbe.org STEM mentors will help students with science projects this year!

We’re very excited to announce a new partnership that will provide students working on science projects with dedicated online mentors in STEM fields!

In case you’re unaware, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. There is a dire need in the U.S. for people to fill STEM careers; there are many science and technology job openings, but not enough people to recruit. A major place where this problem can be addressed is within our education system.

There is an amazing initiative happening in upstate New York called the Dr. Nelson Ying Tri Region Science & Engineering Fair (Ying TRSEF). The fair was created to allow students to explore their talents and challenge their minds in STEM fields. It’s available to students in grades 5-12 throughout 24 counties, which until 2006 had no regional access to the International Science and Engineer Fair.

This year, a group of these students will have the help of eMentors (provided by icouldbe.org!) during the creation of their science projects.

Ying TRSEF is engaging in a pilot program with icouldbe.org to provide students building their science projects with volunteer eMentors employed in STEM careers. These volunteers will mentor the students through the process of preparing for the fair on March 17 and 18. Using the icouldbe.org discussion boards, each mentor will help her mentee identify the science fair topic/question, make a plan to gather data to answer said question, understand ethical and safety procedures and analyze data and draw conclusions.

At the conclusion of the fair, mentors and mentees will continue the mentoring partnership by transitioning to the icouldbe.org curriculum. The mentors will then guide students through units that will help them identify future goals specific to post-secondary education and careers in various sectors.

We’re hopeful that this is just the beginning of a much bigger initiative to mentor students and create an interest in STEM careers. With mentors who already have vast experience and a passion for jobs in these fields, who better to pair with students to help them realize their capabilities and dreams?

Next month we’ll post an update from the science fair on March 17-18. We can’t wait to see what these kids create!

For more information on Ying TRSEF, visit www.yingtrsef.org.

Photo credits:
science lab counter. March 6, 2009 Meghan McDonald on Flickr.com Creative Commons

Aboriginal Students Embark on eMentoring Personal Quest

Here at icouldbe.org, we’re excited to watch one of our new mentoring partnerships unfold with the University of British Columbia (UBC). Funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and through the use of our own online platform, Aboriginal students in British Columbia (BC) are being paired right now with online mentors!

The UBC Faculty of Medicine, UBC eHealth Strategy Office, and a handful of BC school districts and First Nations communities are working together to connect university students with young aboriginal students in the province.

Aboriginal youth are significantly underrepresented in post-secondary education, especially in fields of health science. This eMentoring program aims to increase representation by supporting young aboriginal students to develop mentoring relationships with university students currently pursuing careers in health. This online mentoring relationship gives these youth someone to turn to, ask questions of, and gain an understanding about a health-related school choices and potential career options. Mentors can support discussions related to future challenges and opportunities such as time management and exploring post-secondary opportunities as well as provide positive role modeling for Aboriginal youth. The program will target grades 6-12 to allowing students to consider their aspirations early and ensure that students will have the potential to pursue their academic and career plans as they graduate from high school.

Not only will all mentoring take place online, but the program also boasts some changes from icouldbe.org’s traditional curriculum to accommodate Aboriginal culture, beliefs and traditions. The adapted curriculum is called an eMentoring Personal Quest (pictured below) and is divided into nine units, starting with first impressions and online safety and finishing with the transition to post-secondary education. Along the way, mentors will help their mentees gain the necessary confidence and skills to pursue a degree after high school.

Program funding began in April 2010, the online platform went live this past September, and the project has been full speed ahead since November, already well on its way to surpass a goal to recruit 50 mentors and 100 mentees. We are so excited to have the opportunity to work in such a unique partnership and broaden our own knowledge of mentoring within different communities and cultures!