Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Journal Record's Corporate Mentoring Article

Investing in younger generations:
Mentoring matters, business leaders say
By Brian Brus
Oklahoma City reporter - Contact: brian.brus@journalrecord.com / 405-278-2837 / https://twitter.com/JRBrianBrus The Journal Record
Posted: 06:18 PM Friday, March 29, 2013 6:18 pm Fri, March 29, 2013
Mentor Crystal Berland helps fourth-grader Lejend Collins do her homework at Hupfeld Academy at Western Village. (Photo by Brent Fuchs)

OKLAHOMA CITY – SandRidge Energy Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Relations Greg Dewey recognizes the value of reciprocity in the phrase that begins, “It takes a village …” and even as he raises four children of his own, he believes in setting time aside each week for other children.

“We’re a community,” Dewey said. “It does take a village to raise children, particularly in cases where kids don’t have a father or don’t have another positive role model outside their parents. And I feel like it’s my responsibility.

“Because the truth is, I hope my kids – who are growing up pretty fortunate – have somebody outside of their parents who are investing in them and reinforcing good behavior,” he said.

Dewey is one of hundreds of SandRidge employees who have participated in the company’s mentorship program at local public schools. He believes that the consistent presence of a positive role model, even for just a few hours at a time, provides affirmation to a young person that he or she is important. That reinforcement drives achievement.

That’s true also at Oklahoma City Hall, which provided an opportunity last spring for executives and midlevel salaried city employees to dedicate an hour each week as reading buddies at Heronville Elementary School. The program developed from a joint task force meeting with officials from the Oklahoma City Public Schools District. That pilot program was so successful, City Council Chief of Staff Debi Martin said, that this year a second program was established at Hayes Elementary. Benchmark data will be reviewed for further confirmation, she said.

“We were able to show that the children seemed to benefit from it, that it was a positive reinforcement for the children, and that it did in fact help the teachers,” Martin said. “It’s sending a clear message to the community and the board of I-89 (school district) that the city cares and that we’re willing to demonstrate tangible efforts that we’re ready to be involved.”

Beverly Woodrome, director of the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative, said the mentoring concept is even more important in a difficult economy. Not every child has two parents to split their attention at home with a job to keep the household afloat. Children are at the mercy of resources beyond their control.

Mentor programs connect those youngsters with adults who confirm that they’re caring and considerate by the very nature of volunteering. In the resulting relationship, young mentees feel comfortable talking about challenges they might not otherwise be able to share with teachers and parents.

No special background is necessary to be a good mentor, just good listening skills, compassion and consistency, she said.

A research brief published by the nonprofit Child Trends titled, “Mentoring: A Promising Strategy for Youth Development,” found that youths who participate in mentoring relationships have better school attendance, a better chance of graduating to higher education, and better attitudes toward education. Mentoring also appears to help prevent substance abuse and reduce some negative youth behaviors.

In 2006, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence launched the Boren Mentoring Initiative to promote the growth and development of quality youth mentoring programs statewide. The Boren Mentoring Initiative is a resource for guidelines, best practices, research, mentoring models and training, as well as a network and forum for mentoring organizations statewide. The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is compiling a statewide directory of mentoring programs listed on its website at OKmentors.org.

Many mentors return to help many times. At SandRidge, for example, company spokesman Randy Decker praised Amanda Streitmatter, the company’s senior systems analyst, who was named this year’s mentor of the year by the Boren Mentoring Initiative. She is now in her second year of mentoring with Edwards Elementary. Before that she mentored at Dunbar Elementary with SandRidge’s Big Brothers Big Sisters partnership, tutored four years with Devon’s program at Mark Twain Elementary and spent two years with the pilot United Way tutoring program.

Business leaders such as Cliff Hudson, chief executive of the Sonic restaurant chain, said a responsible corporation benefits from the relationship as much as the children. The company has maintained a mentor program at Wilson Elementary for 17 years; this year more than 40 students are being tutored.

“We love the relationship with Wilson School, and in addition to the tutoring program, we’ve helped them with computers and other resources along the way … intended to improve things generally at the school,” he said.

Integris Health has a mentoring program at the Hupfeld Academy at Western Village.

“Anybody that mentors, in my experience, thinks that it’s the best hour of the week,” said Integris Family of Foundations Chairman Stanley Hupfeld, for whom the charter school is named. “The kids are so excited to see them, you sort of feel really good about what you’re doing.”


Reposted  http://www.ofe.org/news/2013-03-29.htm

No comments:

Post a Comment