National Mentoring Month: highlighting volunteersNational Mentoring Month: 'It's been proven to work'
Lisa Perrault signed up for the Me and My Math Mentor program at the beginning of this school year.
Perrault and her husband, both retired, head to Jackson Elementary once a week to work with students on their math skills. They go with a group from All Souls Unitarian Church, which has a Partners in Education relationship with Jackson.
|Lisa Perrault (right), a volunteer from the All Souls Unitarian Church, assists Jackson Elementary School student Lavada McIntosh, 7, during a Math Buddies' tutoring session at the school, on Wednesday, Jan.13, 2016. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World|
“It’s something we were very capable of doing,” she said. And seeing the students’ commitment, as well as their progress, has kept the couple going back.
January is National Mentoring Month, and education-related organizations in Tulsa are raising awareness about the importance of mentoring.
“Mentoring works; it’s been proven to work,” said Jaisy Myers, program manager for the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance.
Myers said having a relationship with an adult who wants to be there for a child opens new opportunities for kids and provides them with role models who can offer proper guidance.
Myers said the STEM Alliance, which is an initiative of the Oklahoma Innovation Institute, helps connect individuals or groups with mentoring opportunities through their math tutoring program.
|Casie Perkins (left), a teacher/volunteer at Jackson Elementary School, leads students to the front of the school after a Math Buddies' tutoring session at the school, on Wednesday, Jan.13, 2016. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World|
The organization stepped into the mentoring arena two years ago, and has currently placed about 100 mentors at eight schools in the Tulsa area. The program aims to make math fun, and the curriculum focuses on math games to teach skills.
“Oftentimes, it’s OK in our society to say, ‘I’m not good at math,’ ” Myers said. But the reality is that math is a skill that can be learned like anything else, and it simply takes practice, she said.
Myers said test results show two-thirds of third-graders in the area are not proficient in math, meaning they are “shutting the door to a future in STEM without even knowing it.”
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
The STEM Alliance hopes the mentoring provided through the Me and My Math Mentor program will help increase math proficiency among students in the area.
ImpactTulsa, a collaborative partnership between several entities seeking to ensure a high-quality education for all Tulsa-area students, is also working to raise awareness of the importance of mentoring.
Autumn Worten, director of partner engagement at ImpactTulsa, said the goal of the organization is to increase student success all the way across the pipeline.
Worten said analysis of data they have collected and research they’ve done shows there is a strong correlation between mentoring and school attendance.
“It kind of gives them a reason to be at school,” she said.
Worten said ImpactTulsa tries to direct volunteers into evidence-based programs based on their area of interest. Those who want to work with students on math skills are often sent to the STEM Alliance. Those who want to help kids with reading are referred to Reading Partners.
|Casie Perkins (above), a teacher/volunteer at Jackson Elementary School, leads students to the front of the school after a Math Buddies' tutoring session at the school, on Wednesday, Jan.13, 2016. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World|
“I think that the big thing that we hope to do is encourage the community to understand that it’s all of our jobs to make sure that kids succeed,” Worten said.
Perrault said she has built relationships with the children she mentors.
“We care about them, and the feeling is mutual,” she said.
Perrault said the curriculum provided by the STEM Alliance is easy to work with, and mentors are also allowed to make up their own math games.
“The draw (for students) is that it’s fun,” she said.
And the setting, with only one to three kids per tutor, means students are able to receive more attention then they can get in a classroom.
For more information on mentoring opportunities, call the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance at 918-863-8700 or ImpactTulsa at 918-271-5054.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett and his wife, Victoria Bartlett, were among more than 60 Oklahoma mentors recognized during the fourth annual Oklahoma Mentor Day at the Capitol earlier this month.
Since Bartlett took office in 2009, the couple have have encouraged Tulsa residents to mentor children through the Mayor’s Mentoring to the Max initiative.
They have also spent time reading to school children, speaking at civic events and creating a faith-based community pilot program called Bridges of Faith for One Tulsa.
During Bartlett's time as mayor, the City of Tulsa has adopted Emerson Elementary, and Oklahoma’s first aerospace academy for high school students was created.
The annual Mayor's Mentoring to the Max event will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Jan. 28 at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, 4502 E. 41st St. It will be a showcase of mentoring opportunities through career exploration and awareness.
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/national-mentoring-month-it-s-been-proven-to-work/article_2bb84ae7-8101-5db2-a21c-ba2f8d04b853.html Ret. 2-1-16