Monday, September 21, 2015

College Grads: Mentors = Game Changers

By Jean Rhodes September 13, 2015

The field of mentoring owes a great debt to the Gallup-Purdue Index, a study whose goal is to “to conduct the largest representative study of college graduates in United States history.” To date, the team has surveyed 60,000 college graduates, resulting in a 2014 report and another report to be released in the coming weeks. The 2014 report highlights the vital role of mentors in college students’ graduation, ongoing engagement in work, and overall wellbeing.
As the lead author notes,  “We learned that if graduates felt “supported” during college — by professors who cared, made them excited about learning and who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams — their odds of being engaged in work more than doubled, as did their odds of thriving in their well-being. This finding was true of graduates of all ages and years of graduation; in other words, it’s a career- and life-trajectory game changer.”
In the more recent report, life success was determined by conventional markers (e.g., employment, salary) as well as students’ reports about their satisfaction with 
·         their relationships,
·         their physical health,
·         their community,
·         their economic situation
·         and their sense of purpose.

Once again, college mentors emerged as a key factor accounting for better outcomes overall and greater satisfaction. In particular, as previewed by Frank Bruni in a recent NYTimes column,  satisfaction was predicted, in part by students’ college experience, including whether or not the student
·         developed a relationship with a mentor;
·         took on a project that lasted a semester or more;
·         did a job or internship directly connected to their chosen field;
·         or became deeply involved in a campus organization or activity 

Although readers are cautioned to consider the self-selection biases inherent in survey’s of this nature (i.e., better students seek out mentors and deep involvement in projects), the report found that these effects emerged regardless of the students’ personality.  
Unfortunately,  less than a quarter of national graduates strongly agreed that had received the support of mentors who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams . Given the vital influence of mentors for educational achievement, career success, and overall life satisfaction, we need to both teach students to “fish” for a support and to stock the pond with caring adults. Here are a few suggestions.
1.    Teach students to “fish”–although star students will always find their way to faculty mentors, many students are left behind. Some simply don’t see the value or are too busy. Others feel less entitled or are too embarrassed. To resolve this, colleges should provide training in the skills necessary to do so. Along these lines, my colleagues and I have been developing and evaluating a semester-long course in social networking for college students.
2.    Stock the pond–College networks include many caring adults–not just professors but academic staff, graduate students, advisors, alumni, parents, and others who can serve in this capacity. With additional structure, encouragement, incentives, and training, the the true caring potential of college campuses can be more fully realized.
As the Gallup data, mentors are a key active ingredient in college success, and their influence pays forward across the lifetime. As such, we cannot leave this ingredient to chance. Learning how to recruit and effectively engage with mentors and other caring adults, and how to build what Murphy and Kram refer to as a “developmental network,”  is every bit as important as learning many other subjects, perhaps even more so.

Ret. 9-18-15

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Revenue & Community Hand Up

We admire nonprofits that have a revenue generator beyond grants, donations, public giving campaigns, and other typical fundraising methods. Often these small businesses teach skills, give work experience, and/or provide a community service. 

Two other Oklahoma examples are Enid's Hope Outreach Ministries' Thrift Shop and Bartlesville's Tuesday House, a popular resale business assisting the Mutual Girls Club.

The thrift shop below gives redeemable elephant tokens for the thrift shop to those who attend the health center's classes. Enid's Hope Outreach also gives store credit to young parents completing mentoring sessions. 

Elephant logic: Community Health Centers’ new thrift store offers discount with a twist

By: David Page  The Journal Record          September 2, 2015        

A customer makes a purchase at the U Wear It Well Thrift store at Community Health Centers’ Mary Mahoney Campus at 12716 NE 36th St. in Spencer.  (Photo by Brent Fuchs)

SPENCER – When Community Health Centers started planning to open a thrift store, the primary goal was to create a new revenue source.

“Initially we were just trying to raise some more funding,” said Rosalyn G. Johnson, CEO of the nonprofit provider of family primary and preventive medical and dental health services.
But as planning for the store advanced, the mission expanded.

“We realized we could use the store to encourage people to come in for healthy living classes,” Johnson said.

The U Wear It Well Thrift opened in mid-August at the nonprofit organization’s Mary Mahoney Campus at 12716 NE 36th St. in Spencer.

Like most thrift stores, U Wear It Well accepts cash and debit cards for purchases. But the new thrift store at the Mary Mahoney Campus also accepts redeemable elephant tokens.

Elephant tokens are distributed to people enrolled in one or more of the nonprofit agency’s healthy living classes. Class topics include diabetes and chronic disease management, parenting, behavioral modification and child nutrition.

“Each token is worth $1 in the store,” Johnson said. “We wanted to encourage people to come to the classes.”

Each token has a picture of an elephant, similar to currency having a photograph of a former president.

The elephant was chosen for the tokens to symbolize family and leadership, Johnson said.
Elephants form deep family bonds and live in family groups. Leadership is not equal to power, but illustrates the respect for individuals for their problem-solving ability, self-awareness and empathy, she said.

“We want to encourage healthy living and reward Oklahomans for taking control of their lives,” Johnson said. “It is our hope that the token incentive will improve health and wellness outcomes in this part of our state.”

The thrift store’s merchandise includes men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry, household items and small appliances.

One section of the store features items families need for babies including strollers and cribs, she said.

The store’s merchandise is supplied from donations, many from supporters and the general public.

“Stein Mart was our first retail supporter,” she said. “They donated clothing and household items.”

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Johnson said there are plans to expand the hours to include Saturdays.

“So far the interest in the store has been awesome,” she said.

Staff members at the Mary Mahoney Campus have been taking turns working in the store, but Community Health Centers is recruiting volunteers.

“We are seeking volunteers and donations,” she said.

Ret. 9-14-15

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

ADHD Evaluations Driven by...

ADHD Evaluations Driven Mainly by Parents, Not Educators, Says CDC Report

The stereotype that overwhelmed teachers are the ones primarily pushing parents to have their children assessed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is not borne out by a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
ADHD is a common childhood behavioral disorder that often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may be overly active, have trouble paying attention, or be prone to impulsive behaviors.
About 65 percent of the time, a family member is the one who first has concerns about a child's behavior, according to a survey of households with children ages 0 to 17. Thirty percent of the time, the concern comes from someone at the child's school or daycare. About 5 percent of the time, the concern came from another individual, like a doctor. The report, Diagnostic Experiences of Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, was released Sept. 3.  
Those percentages varied depending on the child's age at the time he or she was diagnosed. For children 5 or younger—generally younger than school-age—family members were the first ones to spot concerning behavior about three-quarters of the time. For children ages 6 to 15, family members spotted problems first 60 percent of the time, while 30 percent of the first mentions of behavior issues came from teachers. This chart from the report offers more detail on the individuals that family members say were first concerned about their child's behavior. 
"I have heard that same concern, that the increasing rate of ADHD is driven by teachers who are intolerant of behavioral problems in class," said Dr. Susanna Visser, the lead author of the report and lead epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "I think we have to be very careful and supportive of the relationship between family members and other adults who know the child well."
The CDC survey is intended to find out how closely parent-reported experiences aligned with what the American Academy of Pediatrics says are best practices for diagnosing ADHD. Those best practices include assessing the child's behavior in multiple settings and gathering reports on the child's behavior from parents, teachers, and others involved in the child's care.

Primary Providers Largely Following Guidelines for Diagnosing ADHD

Among the other findings from the survey:
  • The median age for a ADHD diagnosis was 7, and about a third of children was diagnosed before age 6. Most of the children in the survey, about 76 percent, were diagnosed before age 9.
  • Behavior rating scales, which the AAP recommends, were used for about 90 percent of children assessed for ADHD. The survey also found that more than three-quarters of children diagnosed before age 6 and nearly two-thirds of older children diagnosed with ADHD had undergone neuropsychological testing.
  • Neurological imaging or lab tests were used somewhat less for diagnosis—about 30 percent of the time. 
  • About 80 percent of the time, the professional who makes the ADHD diagnosis included the assessments of other adults in the child's life (generally teachers for older children, or childcare providers for younger children). 
Visser said that the overall findings suggest that primary care providers are adhering to the AAP diagnosis guidelines. "We take this as good news," she said. 
Diagnosing ADHD can be a challenge, but Visser said that two strategies work well regardless of the cause of the child's behavioral problems. One is being consistent with discipline, and the second is praising positive behaviors. "They are just magical. They can really change the way the child behaves," she said. 
The CDC's "My Child Has Been Diagnosed with ADHD-Now What?" page goes into more detail on these and other helpful behavior strategies.
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Ret. 9-8-15