Monday, August 26, 2013

New Mentoring Program, El Reno

We applaud the many Oklahoma local education foundations that envision and execute projects far beyond typical teacher grants.  El Reno Public Schools Foundation, however, has set a new standard.

After the 2012 Fall Forum’s mentoring sessions, Suzanne Thompson, then president of the El Reno Public School Foundation, and other foundation leaders decided El Reno needed a new mentoring program. Suzanne and Dana Gibson instigated focus groups to talk about needs and ideas and listen to presentations by various mentoring organizations including Rocky Burchfield, Fairview superintendent and his Mission Mentors staff and board members.
A group of concerned citizens composed of business, civic, school and religious leaders, chaired by Dana Gibson, then designed a mentoring program as a standing committee under the umbrella of the school foundation. 

This is the paragraph inserted into El Reno Public School bylaws--in case other local education foundations wish to pursue this plan. 

This committee will consist of at least one Foundation trustee and various community members, number may vary.  The committee will elect chairman, vice-chairman, secretary and treasurer in March, terms lasting 2 years.  The treasurer will present a budget in April for the coming calendar year and a monthly treasurer’s report to the foundation.  The committee will report yearly, in April, their annual report and goals for the coming year.  It shall be the responsibility of the committee to organize and enlist mentors to provide weekly mentoring/tutoring sessions to students (and families) of ERPS students.  This committee will work with the personnel of ERPS in tracking mentors and mentees.  Students will be suggested by school personnel and matched with mentors accordingly.

At any time in the future, the mentoring group can become its own 501 (c) 3, but the current strategy is working. Forming a separate nonprofit can take six months to a year, and El Reno students needed something successful in place by August.

This has been a huge amount of research and work; however, the kickoff of the new program is amazing, and El Reno is willing to share how this is done as a model for other foundations.
Students Striving for Success, El Reno’s new mentoring program, has begun the 2013-14 school year with 178 mentees and over 100 mentors.  The SSFS board and staff have decided not to add mentees until January because it wants to match the remaining mentees one-to-one with mentors. 

More good news is that at the Fall Forum, October 22, 2013, Dana Gibson and some of those involved, will present a session about how a local education foundation can create a successful mentoring group under its aegis. 
Major mentor recruiting tool: using the mentoring program video.

Some highlights so far:

·         Mercy Hospital produced a Students Striving for Success video as its additional investment in the community.

·         Dana Gibson and others showed the video at churches to recruit mentors.

·         Brooke Stroman, an experienced El Reno Public Schools employee, enthusiastically handles critical parts of the program.

·         Brooke takes the video to businesses and others to recruit mentors.

·         To allow Brooke the time to focus upon the program, Rana Porter, an accountant who wants to spend more time with her toddler, works part-time.  She efficiently and rapidly handles spreadsheets of mentors, mentees, expenses, etc., and also sends reminders.  In short, Rana, a fourth generation El Reno Public Schools attendee, handles the organization end brilliantly.

·         The foundation’s standing committee and mentoring board for this program are PASSIONATE about their involvement.
The foundation’s standing committee and board for this program are passionate about their involvement.

From the El Reno Public School Foundation

Students Striving for Success

Board Members
  • Dana Gibson, Chairman  
  • Richard Steanson, Vice-Chairman  
  • Michelle Ahem, Secretary 
  • Toni Grantham, Treasurer  
  • Barry Bennett 
  • Curtis Blanc  
  • Charlie Blount  
  • Pam Broyles  
  • Ronnie Fields 
  • Connie Hart-Yellowman  
  • Susan Hill 
  • Alisha Kirkland 
  • Chris Lambackis 
  • Robbie March 
  • Karen Nance
  • John Schneider  
  • Geraldo Troncosco

  El Reno Public Schools 
  • Craig McVay, Superintendent
  • Brooke Stroman, Community Outreach Director/Mentoring Support Specialist
  • Susan K. Hill
We look forward to learning more at the Fall Forum on October 22nd. 

Congratulations to the community of El Reno!

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