Monday, December 23, 2013

Magical Mentoring Tour I

The Boren Mentoring Initiative, a program of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, conducted its first Magical Mentoring Tour on December 13, 2014, at Cameron University in Lawton.

The purpose of the tour to each quarter of the state is to provide an overview of mentoring options.

The agenda of the first tour included presentations about the Boren Mentoring Initiative and its Advisory Committee, school-based mentoring, after-school mentoring, and the four school-based Oklahoma mentoring models along with appropriate videos interspersed between presenters. Box lunches were served, and drawing prizes will be sent to lucky attendees.

Follow-up and consulting in various forms will occur after the event. Beginning a mentoring program is a community strategy and partnership. Attendees also received a post-event critique through Survey Monkey in order to improve future presentations and provide additional information.

From Lawton, three Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence trustees as well as one trustee's husband helped us in creating and launching the event. 'Special thanks to Albert Johnson, Beth Johnson, and Linda and Larry Neal.

Indispensable MM Tour women: Mendy Stone, Trina Kettrles (Cameron) and Christine Sorrels

Keli Collins, counselor, Eisenhower Middle School; Kristy Hardy, assistant principal, Eisenhower MS; Lynn Bellamy, assistant superintendent, Anadarko PS; Beth Johnson, president, Lawton PS Foundation and OFE trustee; Randy Harris, superintendent, Fletcher PS; Lori Hayes, counselor, Navajo PS, Altus; Angela and Jeffrey Bolds, founders of "Men & Me" mentoring program, Lawton; Lennie Orwell, founder of Stand for Something or Fall for Anything and gang expert, Lawton; and Rick Garrison, superintendent, Cheyenne PS, and also co-creator/sponsor of the district's "Life 101" program for seniors.  

 Other attendees of the Magical Mentoring Tour in Lawton are (seated) Jerri Manning, principal, Lawton HS; Jennifer McGrail, director of alumni relations, Cameron University; Martina Callahan, admission counselor, Job Corps, Lawton; Kimberly Perdue, youth career & education coach, ResCare Workforce Services, Chickasha; and Lara Jernigan, youth career coach, ResCare Workforce Services, Chickasha.  Standing are Christine Sorrels, director, Helping Hands Volunteers & Millers Mentor Program, Yukon PS; Jerrold Jones, assistant principal, Lawton HS; Kim Bryant, executive director, Southwestern Youth Services, Altus; Melanie Wilkins, Bonnie Talley and Nancy Bowling, volunteers, The Well Outreach, Duncan; and Mendy Stone, executive director, Volunteers for Youth, Rogers County. Taking the photo was Bev Woodrome, director, the Boren Mentoring Initiative, OFE.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Watch D.O.G.S., Part II

Norman's Watch D.O.G.S. keeps dads involved at school

Children and fathers benefit from a national program called Watch D.O.G.S., which has been adopted by five Norman schools. The program founder urged expansion of the program in a visit to Norman this week.

BY SARAH LOBBAN Modified: October 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm • Published: October 11, 2013 
With just a month of volunteering under his belt, Jed Bowers already sees the benefits of getting involved at his son Jaden's school.

At Truman Primary, where Jaden attends prekindergarten, Bowers helps with traffic control, a specific problem at that school.

When children are being picked up or dropped off, the streets often become congested, with people paying no heed to one-way signs, threatening students' safety, he said.

As a member of Truman's Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program, Bowers and other fathers now direct traffic before and after school, escort students to their classrooms and generally serve as mentors to the children by getting to know them better.

Through his volunteer work, Bowers said he helps ensure the safety of students and is engaging more actively in his son's life.

Across the nation, schools are taking steps to ensure their students have a safe learning environment through Watch D.O.G.S., a program founded after a 1998 middle-school shooting in Jonesboro, Ark. Watch D.O.G.S. utilizes an often overlooked resource: fathers.

Five of Norman's elementary schools offer the program, and on Tuesday, founder Eric Snow was in Norman to urge expansion to other schools.

“The education of our children has to be the No. 1 priority in this country,” said Snow in an address to Norman parents, principals and educators at the Nancy O'Brien Performing Arts Center.

“We watched schools, and we listened to schools, and we found that these role models have a very positive impact.”

Whether it is reading aloud, monitoring the playground or simply being a presence in the hallways, the fathers, as well as uncles, grandfathers and other male family members, become more engaged in children's lives. They work closely with educators in the classroom, while acting as mentors for their own children and every student. 
Ret. 12-18-13

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Watch D.O.G.S., Part I

Almost everything about Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) at, an excellent resource!

In Oklahoma City...

Who Let the Watch D.O.G.S. Out?

By Kristen Hoyt

Oklahoma City Public Schools have tapped into the Father Involvement Initiative of the National Center for Fathering called “Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students). This initiative organizes fathers and father figures to promote positive male role models for students and to enhance school security. Watch D.O.G.S. began in Springdale, Arkansas in 1998—and has quickly grown to 2,276 active programs in 41 states and Washington, D.C.

Across our state, schools with Watch D.O.G.S. programs have an average of 85 days throughout the year where a Watch D.O.G. dad volunteers in the school. In Oklahoma, there are currently 53 schools participating in the program, including Cleveland Elementary in Oklahoma City, where we spoke to a few of the Watch D.O.G. dads.

Thomas Cherry

Thomas Cherry, a self-employed dad of a kindergarten student, regularly volunteers once per week during the morning drop off. He opens car doors, ensures the safety of children walking to and from school and greets parents.

Mr. Cherry has helped with birthday parties, reading to and with students, providing transportation for field trips and with mailings. “Usually the moms are called upon to do many of the volunteer jobs in the school,” said Mr. Cherry. “Being self-employed, I am able to set aside some time each week to help out. It benefits me as a dad and it seems to benefit the children, too.”

Paxton Gray

Paxton Gray works the drop-off line for the morning school rush as well as the school pick-up line in the afternoons. He also assists at recess, which both helps teachers with monitoring and wards off potential bullying issues.

Mr. Gray recently helped students train for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Kid’s Marathon. He walked and timed the kids on Friday afternoons, staying with them until their parents picked them up. His commitment to these kids encouraged them to participate in community events and to commit to being healthy.

Even with all that he does, Mr. Gray was modest in saying, “There are several dads and father figures who help at Cleveland. I do what I can, but there are many others, too.”

Cleveland’s Watch D.O.G.S. dads also serve as testing proctors for standardized tests and organized a flag football game to raise funds for the school. These dads are a welcome and helpful addition to the volunteers at Cleveland and several other schools in the Oklahoma City Public School District.

Positive Impacts

According to Principal Marsha Stafford, about 50 dads actively participate in Watch D.O.G.S. at Cleveland Elementary. “We have a list of dads that we can call on any time we need help,” she explains. “They help in the cafeteria, on the playground, with tutoring, with test monitoring and committees. They have even shoveled snow in the parking lot!” Stafford notes that the Watch D.O.G.S. have been particularly helpful with the school's efforts to integrate Spanish into their curriculum. “We have some dads who speak fluent Spanish and are helping us teach the curriculum and tutor students after school,” Stafford says.

But beyond the extra hands and help with special projects, Stafford sees a larger value in having dads in the school setting. “It's important for these children to see a positive male role model, especially for those who might not have a male figure in their lives,” Stafford explains. “They are forming relationships with the children and making sure the children feel very safe at school. They help make the atmosphere at Cleveland friendly, warm and accepting by modeling courtesy and respect. They help set the tone for our school.”
According to research, increased involvement by fathers has shown to result in:

·         higher grades and higher confidence levels in the student body as a whole,

·         children who enjoy school and view education as important and worthy,

·         a decrease in school-related anxiety in children, and

·         community members working hard to benefit their neighbors.

If you or your principal would like to start a Watch D.O.G.S. program at your school, access the National Center for Fathering website at

I’m not sure who let the Watch D.O.G.S. out, but I am certainly glad they did!

Kristen Hoyt is Assistant Professor and Director of Field Experience in the School of Teacher Education at MACU (Mid-America Christian University in OKC).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Anti-Bullying Pledge, Norman, OK

Yesterday we mentioned Norman's AboveBullying campaign and event, at which Wes Moore spoke. Below is Norman's pledge. Certainly, the scope of the definition is educational for many (Bystanders are guilty, too!), and implementing this concept into organizations, communities and/or schools is necessary.

Photos: Norman AboveBullying FB page

Norman: AboveBullying Pledge

I, ___________, agree to join together to stamp out bullying in my comunity. I believe that everybody should enjoy our community equally, feel safe and secure regardless of color, race, creed, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability.

Bullying may occur in multiple forms, including verbal or written expressions, gestures, physical acts, electronic expressions or social media. It is behavior toward another person that causes physical or emotional harm, creates fear or a hostile environment and infringes on the rights of others. Bullying can be behaving in a way that physically harms or is physically agggressive towards another. Bullying can be unwanted teasing, threatening or intimidating comments, stalking or cyberstalking. It could be publicly humiliating another person, spreading rumors, falsehoods or ditial images and socially excluding another. Bullying causes pain and stress to people and is never justified or excusable as "just teasing" or any other rationalization. A person should never be the target of bullying.

By signing this pledge, I agree to:

1. Respect others' differences and treat them with respect.

2. Not become involved in bullying incidents or demonstrate bullying value.

3. Be aware of support stystems to help individuals who have been targeted.

4. Report honestly and immediately all incidents of bullying behavior to an authority figure.

5. Support people who have been or are subjected to bullying behavior.

6. Network with others in the community to help them prevent and intervene with bullying effectively.

7. Encourage people to discuss bullying issues at school, in the workplace, or in their neighborhoods.

8. Be a positive role model by acting respectfully.

9. I acknowledge that if I witness someone being bullied and don't report or stop the bullying, I am just as guilty.


A PSA by OU Women's Basketball Coach Sherri Coale, made for AboveBullying

Ret. 12-5-13

Two Youths, Different Outcomes

Brenda Wheelock, the PR director of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, shared this story after she heard about Moore's speaking at "Norman AboveBullying & A Community Together" event in Norman, Oklahoma. Moore clearly represents the results of positive role models and mentoring. Mentors could share this story with their mentees.

To read more about the Norman AboveBullying event:

From Oprah, April 27, 2010
Wes Moore

Same Name, Different Fate

"The similarities are striking. Two boys from Maryland were raised by single mothers in rough neighborhoods. Surrounded by drug dealers, gun violence and gang activity, each man struggled to make a name for himself. The name? Wes Moore.

These men may share a name, but they had very different destinies. One Wes Moore is a Rhodes Scholar, a White House fellow and a Wall Street hotshot. The other Wes Moore was convicted of killing a police sergeant and will spend the rest of his days in a 6-by-8-foot prison cell."

Read more:

Monday, December 2, 2013

"Fifty Ways to Leave Your Mentor (or Mentee)"

Michael J. Karcher, Ph.D.
by Michael J. Karcher, Ed.D., Ph.D., University of Texas at San Antonio

Banff Center for the Arts, Alberta, Canada

From a presentation at the National Mentoring Symposium,  2013

Getting a feeling for losing a friend

“I guess I just miss my friend” Shawshank Redemption. “Sometimes it makes me sad, Andy being gone…and when they fly away…the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they are gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”


Quotes below are from “Termination and closure in mentoring relationships,” by Renee Spencer and Antoinette Basualdo-Delmonico. In D.L. DuBois, & M.J. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of Youth Mentoring. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. www/ 20% discount code N121019

Most matches end prematurely: “Many agencies do in fact hope that the relationships established through their programs will grow into ties that are more natural and sustained over time without the support of the agency. Unfortunately, research suggests otherwise, with fewer than half of relationships established through formal mentoring programs lasting to their initial time commitment.” (p. 469)

Achieving, Completing, Succeeding, and Celebrating! “Keller calls this phase in youth mentoring “decline and dissolution” and draws a distinction between these two types of endings. Decline is the more passive drifting apart over time that accompanies reductions in the importance and level of closeness in the relationship, whereas dissolution is a more intentional or active termination of the relationship that may be marked by a clear event.” (Spencer & Basualdo-Delmonico, p. 470)

“How a relations ends is key to how mentors and especially youth think about and value their experiences together” (Taylor & Bressler, 2002, p. 70, in Spencer & Basualdo-Delmonico, p. 470).

No double-dash: “Dashed expectations may be of special significance to the many youth served by mentoring programs who have experienced significant disruptions in their primary caregiving relationships, where due to parental separation, incarceration, or transfer to foster care. (p. 470)

Maintaining gains: “When handled well, it is believed that the termination process can solidify gains made, resolve issues that have arisen in the …relationship itself, and prepare the [youth] for maintaining healthy functioning without the support of [mentor]…Poor endings, in contrast, hold the potential to undo some of these gains when the process of ending the relationship stirs up and does not adequately address issues and conflicts previously raised in…unresolved issues associated with loss and separation the [youth] may have carried into [the mentoring relationship].” (p. 470)

Questions unanswered, doubts arises, sadness lingers Lion King & Rascal Flats:

“What hurts the most, what being so close, and having so much to say, and seeing you walk away, and never knowing what could have been. And not seeing that loving you is what I was trying to do.”

Preparing for Success and Completion

In the CAMP program we begin with the end in mind (and practice saying goodbye using the 3-2-1 activities to prepare matches for closure. (Karcher, 2012,

Each Meeting

3-2-1 Touching Base Activity (start of CAMP meeting)

   3.   Each person shares three things that happened in the past week (or month) that were good.

   2.   Each person shares two things that happened in the week (or month) that were bad things.
   1.   Each person shares one thing he/she plans to do to make more good things happen in his life or hopes for.

3-2-1 Activity Reflection (at the end of CAMP meeting)

   3.   Each shares three things that went well today.

   2.   Each shares two things that did not go well.

   1.   Each shares one that he or she hopes will be different next time (brainstorm solutions).

Done Quarterly

 3-2-1 Relationship Reflections

   3.   Each person comes up with three things they really like about the other person, three special times they had together so far this year; or three things they really enjoyed doing together.

  2.    Each person shares two things about the other person (or two times together) that made it hard to stay connected in their friendship.
  1.   Each identifies one thing she/he will do differently in this relationship for the rest of the year.

 End of Year

The two closure rituals (“Termination ritual” or “Thrown under the bus activity”)

  1. Explain the reason for the ending
  2. Discuss what worked and what didn’t
  3. Highlight what each found special about the other
  4. Share how each other feels—both sadness and thankfulness for their year together
  5. Hopes for each other about how each will take lessons learned to their next relationship

(Cite: Karcher, M.J. (2012). The Cross-age Mentoring Program (CAMP) for Children with Adolescent Mentors (four book set). San Antonia, TX: Developmental Press. Some activities available at and described in program materials at

Karcher is an expert in peer mentoring.  A following blog post will feature some PowerPoint slides about more of his research. 
To read more about Karcher’s research: 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Connect-U, Peer Mentoring at OU

Update May 28, 2014
ConnectU is a mentorship program at the University of Oklahoma that pairs new students with upperclassmen to provide each individual student with tools and resources to maximize success at OU.

Mentors can quickly provide consistency in the incoming students’ experience as well as introduce them to all opportunities at OU that they might not be able to find on their own. 

This student-led program chiefly communicates via social media, the preference of college students. Mentors, who also receive ongoing tips online, learn about their roles, good mentor characteristics, activity suggestions, possible mentee challenges, and ameliorating actions.

Applications: (Worth reviewing!)


Connect-U brings personalized mentoring to new students

Reagan Martin, The Oklahoma Daily 7:42 p.m. November 19, 2013

Photo by Reagan Martin
(Right) Ryan Shoemaker, an energy management sophomore and Connect-U campus liaison, and Emily Desantis, a visual communications sophomore and Connect-U Chair, pose with OU Men's Basketball coach, Lon Krueger. Connect-U mentors and mentees took a group tour of the Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday.


WHAT: Orange Leaf Meet-Up
WHEN: 3-4:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Orange Leaf at 1808 W. Lindsey

Apply for Connect-U
Those interested can fill out applications for mentors and mentees online on the Connect-U Facebook.

New Sooners wanting to learn the ins and outs of campus life from someone who has already experienced it can join Connect-U, a new mentoring program this semester.
Founded by Emily DeSantis, fine art visual communications sophomore, and Dillon Brown, religious studies junior, Connect-U is a mentoring program that matches new freshmen and transfer students with upperclassmen.

DeSantis and Brown came up with the idea for Connect-U in the spring when they were reminiscing about their various freshman year experiences in greek life and the President’s Leadership Class. Both loved the positive interaction in their different activities—especially the opportunity they had to network with other students.
“We wanted to make something that anyone could be apart of,” said Brown, vice chair and co-founder of Connect-U.

Upperclassmen Connect-U mentors give advice and hang out with their mentees, and the pairs are expected to contact each other twice a month to meet for coffee or talk, Brown said.
“We want Connect-U to be something that you look forward to—not see it as an obligation.”

The organization took part in a group tour of the Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday for mentors and mentees and will have an Orange Leaf meet-up on Sunday for members and nonmembers.
However, the founders are discovering the hardship of getting members to actually participate in a new campus organization.

“We don’t have the name recognition yet, like other organizations. We have had to rely on our advertising and word-of-mouth,” DeSantis said.
Despite its newness, Desantis said they have received many applications from students who they and other members did not know.

With 68 pairings, Brown said he wants to keep the mentoring one-on-one.
“We want our mentors to get to know one mentee pretty well rather than kind of know several mentees,” Brown said.

Ryan Shoemaker, an energy management sophomore and Connect-U campus liaison, joined the organization because of his experience during his freshman year.
“When I first came to OU, I didn’t know that many people on campus. I found people who had the same interests as me and served as my mentors,” Shoemaker said.

He said he thinks it is essential that people who are new to OU have a mentor to help them out.
“I wanted to help out,” he said.

Miranda Laurion, an environmental sustainability junior, and her mentee, Christina Hamilton, a geophysics freshman from Trinidad, joined the program for different reasons.
Hamilton said she got an email to join the organization, and since she was new to Oklahoma she thought it would be a good idea.

Laurion said she joined because her roommate is on the program’s exec committee.
“I thought it would be a fun thing to do because I don’t know many underclassmen, and I thought I could show them around,” Laurion said.

Other students, like Bethany Mulanax, joined after being encouraged by upperclassmen.
“My Camp Crimson SGLs told me to get involved, so when I got the email I thought it would be good way to do that,” said Mulanax, a health and exercise science freshmen.

Brown said he hopes Connect-U will grow next year by having more applicants, having more organization-wide events and receiving funding from the Student Government Association.
With extra funding, Brown said he will be able to get a new database to match mentors with mentees and also fund more Connect-U events.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

After-School Programs, Edmonton-style

Kids On Track


Kids On Track started in September of 1992. On October 31, 1995 Kids On Track was officially registered as a non-profit society in the province of Alberta. In August of 1996 we recieved our charitable status with the Government of Canada. This longevity has created credibility with families and other service providers such as schools, police and social workers. Our long-term commitment to at-risk families builds trust and provides stability for children and youth.

Our Programs!

Kids On Track offers a unique blend of social, recreational, and spiritual programs. By offering this blend of programs each individual program becomes more effective than if it stood alone. This has been particularly valuable in building relationships with the families that we serve. The parents and children develop relationships with the volunteers and staff who are able to become mentors of at-risk children and youth.

The almost dizzying array of programs from September through June include:

School Clubs (kids grades 1-6)
Family Fun Night (once a month)
Parent's Cafe (parent support during Family Fun Night)
Family Celebrations (holidays with Kids on Track)
L.I.T.E.S. (Leaders In Training Experience, grades 7 and up)
Rainbows & Prisms (grief recovery for family break-up)
Shift Youth (Friday night youth programming)
Character Connex (school assembly program)

Programs July-August

Kids Summer Day Campus (kids entering grades 1-5)
Kids Summer Camp (kids entering grades 3-5)
L.I.T.E. Summer Program (intensive leadership training, kids grauduating grade 6 and up)

Linda Roussel is the founder and director of Kids On Track, an organization with a seventeen year track record of outstanding ministry to urban kids in Edmonton. She was a community health nurse for over 25 years and has a one year specialization in multicultural health services. Linda has extensive experience in connecting with parents of at risk children and a passion for helping children and youth become all they can be.

We recently became acquainted with Linda at the National Mentoring Symposium in Canada.  Even among "mentoring people," who are already exceptional, Linda is far above most. Words cannot quite describe her heart, organization, vision, humility, intellect and goodness.  No wonder this program has grown and developed.  Resiliency is a Roussel family hallmark!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quality Standards & Self-Assessment Checklist

Again, we borrow from Mentor Michigan for handy, professional resources to check our own programs--

Mentor Michigan Quality Program Standards for Youth and

Mentor Michigan Program Self-Assessment Checklist (intended for program-level, not organization-level).

Link to page:,4618,7-193-27047-123108--,00.html

Note how MASSMENTORS uses quality standards and assessment.  Quality standards and outside assessment illustrate a certain standard of efficacy for mentoring programs, thus an endorsement for funding.

Monday, November 18, 2013

High School Teen Mentoring Resources, Canada

At the recent National Mentoring Symposium in Banff, Canada's first national mentoring conference, many programs and resources were featured.  Guide links are below.

Teens using these guides vary from career tech to high school to college.  We can find much adaptable for our existing or new programs.

High School Teen Mentoring Resources

The High School Teen Mentoring resources are a result of a four year pilot program by Advanced Education and Technology in partnership with Big Brother Big Sister of Edmonton and Area, and supported by Alberta Education. These resources are to be used in combination: High School Teen Mentoring Handbook, High School Teen Mentoring Activity Book and High School Teen Mentoring Bin Resources. Each publication is available for downloading in PDF format below or can be ordered in print format (just make sure you type in the exact name of the resource you would like to order in the "Keyword or Phrase" field).
These three resources are available free in Alberta for use in various mentoring courses and programs province-wide such as:
  • Career and Technology Studies (CTS) mentoring courses in Alberta schools,
  • extra curriculum mentoring courses or programs through Alberta schools,
  • school partnership mentoring programs, or
  • mentoring programs through other organizations.
The High School Teen Mentoring Handbook provides you with valuable information on how to be a mentor, including:
  • building a great mentoring relationship
  • surprises and myths about mentoring
  • developing your conversation and listening skills
  • determining your learning styles
  • protecting your mentee

High School Teen Mentoring Resources (webpage)                                                        
Activity Book      
Mentoring Bin Resources    

Ret. 11-15-13
Updated links, 6-4-14

Friday, November 15, 2013

Financial Literacy Online

The Khan Academy is famous for its online courses so that students, parents, those simply interested in learning and others can learn.  Recently, Bank of America and the Khan Academy partnered to offer an easily accessible and interesting way to understand money and acquire better money habits. 

What young person--or person of any age--does not need to learn about money?
Ret. 11-15-13

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beginning of El Reno's Students Striving for Success

This innovative mentoring program, implemented in 2013-14, is a model for beginning other mentoring groups. Cleverly, the program is governed by a  standing committee "under the umbrella" of an existing nonprofit, in this case, the El Reno Public Schools Foundation. Even more cleverly perhaps, the program is conceived and driven by the entire community!

This is the presentation made by Dana Gibson at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence's Fall Forum 2013. 

"It Takes a Village"
(F) Michelle Ahern, Rana Seymour, Toni Grantham, Dana Gibson, Suzanne Thompson
(B) Brooke Stroman, Richard Steanson, Curtis Blanc

In 1996 Hilary Rodham Clinton chose an ancient African proverb to title her book, It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.  It offers a timeless reminder to us that children will thrive only if their families thrive and if society cares enough to provide for them.  When a small group of concerned citizens in El Reno began meeting, we all realized that there are things we can do to show our children that we will help them to thrive and that our village cares enough to provide for them.  We talked, we asked for participation from our city, we sought help from experts, we formally organized our program, we solicited mentors from within our village, and we began mentoring in the El Reno Public Schools within 12 months.
Curtis Blanc and I had our first of many discussions in the fall of 2012 after the grades of our public schools were published. The results were dismal. It was clear to us that something could be done and that we were just the ones to get that something started. We talked about mentoring in the schools, with emphasis on reading and encouraging parental involvement for our school children. We talked about what this board should look like and began to send out information to various members, asking them to join us. We included ministers; leaders of Mercy Hospital; Brooke Stroman, Community Outreach Director ERPS; principals from all the schools; bankers; insurance people; DHS; city leaders; and anyone else active in our community. 
I am a very close friend of Suzanne Thompson, OFE board Member, and El Reno citizen.  Suzanne and I had been in conversation about a program, and she suggested we invite Beverly Woodrome to a meeting to help with our discussion.  Beverly, as you know, is director of the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative with OFE.   The results of this meeting were nothing less than amazing.  Beverly’s encouraging us to work toward a mentoring program led to another meeting with Mission Mentors, Fairview, Oklahoma. After this, we were truly hooked, and the enthusiasm was obvious in all of our committee members.

Craig McVay, newly chosen superintendent of El Reno Public Schools, encouraged us to form a partnership with the El Reno Public Schools, elect officers, design a brochure, and most importantly, ask the El Reno Public Schools Foundation to adopt our committee. This step would speed up our process immensely. We became part of their foundation, which gave us a 501(c)(3) immediately, allowing us to accept tax deductible donations quickly.  We gave our committee its name, Students Striving for Success, had brochures printed, and started soliciting mentors.
We now have over 125 mentors, meeting for one hour each week in the schools with their mentees.  There is talk all over El Reno about relationships, community pride and how much fun everyone is having.  There have been obstacles. Nothing happens without them, but we are diligently working through them.  We are certainly proud of Students Striving for Success and mentors Making a Difference.

Senator Clinton closes her book with this thought, "just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes children to raise up a village to be all it should be.  The village we build with them in mind will be a better place for us all."

[View Students Striving for Success program’s amazing recruitment video, which is a model for all to consider.]
I would like to introduce some of the most important pieces to our puzzle:  Brooke Stroman, El Reno Public schools, has made this process seamless.  Her knowledge of mentoring and her love for our school children has been the catalyst we all needed. We hired Rana Porter Seymour as Brooke's assistant, and together they are a very strong and effective team.  Toni Grantham, my friend and treasurer of our committee never considers a task impossible.  Richard Steanson, vice-chairman with a servant’s heart and tireless volunteer spirit, Michelle Roblyer Ahern, secretary, has never missed a planning meeting and has been on board from the start.

Last but certainly not least, Curtis Blanc, El Reno Public schools Foundation board member, CASA volunteer, Mercy Hospital El Reno board chairman and the one that tries to tie my feet to the ground.  We want to thank OFE for inviting us and helping us.  Please take this time to ask questions of the panel.

Shared by Dana Gibson, Chairman, Students Striving for Success

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bullying Prevention

Borrowed from the Oklahoma State Department of Education's website are the following tools and resources for National Bullying Prevention Month, October 2013.

55 percent of bullying situations will stop when a peer intervenes.

Check out this daily tip calendar for students to stop bullying.

The tips work all year!

To read more on bullying prevention:

Ret. 10-10-13