Category Archives: Teachers

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.

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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

And, The Teacher of the Year award goes to…

We’re wrapping up the 2011-2012 school year here at icouldbe.org, and there are a few mentors, students and teachers who stand out!

We’re pleased to announce that Dana Braun is the recipient of our Teacher of the Year award!

Dana is a teacher from Westminster High School in California, and has been teaching in various capacities since 1989. Dana taught Biology and Physiology to sophomores and seniors for 15 years at Westminster, a California Partnership Academy (CPA). When the founding CPA coordinator retired, Dana took over her position to lead the Academy.

In 2007, Dana met the icouldbe staff at the annual CPA Conference where icouldbe delivers a workshop every year.  Dana has been bringing icouldbe.org to her Juniors ever since.

This year, Dana motivated her students each week to log on, communicate with their mentors, work on the curricular units focused on college and career prep, and receive valuable, personalized feedback from their mentors. The best reflection of Dana’s skills lies in her students’ outcomes: her current class has been chosen as one of the three Most Successful Classes of the 2011-2012 School Year. Here’s what Dana has to say about the icouldbe.org mentoring program:

  1. What role do you play with the students and mentors who work with the icouldbe.org program? I am a teacher as well as academy coordinator. The students are with me for one of their junior Career Technical Education classes, and the icouldbe.org program is delivered in my class.
  2. What makes a good icouldbe.org teacher?  I regularly monitor my students’ progress with their mentors on the curricular activities and I read over some of the conversations between mentors and mentees.  It’s critical that as a teacher I help facilitate good mentor and mentee interactions.
  3. Why do you think online mentoring is important for today’s youth? Online mentors give students access to someone who is out in the business world right now. Mentors can give students support and guidance during important career and college decisions. The great thing about online mentoring is that it is safe, and students can access the program at any hour, even if they are unable to work on the curriculum during the scheduled time period each week.
  4. Do any memories stand out to you this year from the students who worked with icouldbe.org mentors? I have several. I had a mentor that worked with a student who finished the entire 10 units in less than a semester. Another great memory was the excitement of one of my students who found a mentor who shared her interests in sports as a career. I also love when mentors are reassuring to students who express doubt about their skills. The vast majority of mentors are always able to find that personal,self-esteem building quality that can truly help my students gain the confidence they need to succeed.
  5. What do you hope for the future of your students? I hope they find their personal path, achieve to their potential, and reach their goals. In regards to icouldbe.org, I hope they long remember what they learned in the curriculum, the activities they completed and the guidance they received from their mentors.

Photo Credit: vistamommy on Flickr’s Creative Commons