Vol. 20, No. 18
July 19, 2001
CHEP staff members volunteer
When the call went out last year for volunteers for MentorWorks, a joint program between the College of Human Services, Education and Public Policy (CHEP) and Brookside Elementary School, several members of the college staff offered to help out and spent the year involved with young students on a one-to-one basis.
Among the volunteers were Pat Brinley, assistant to the chairperson of consumer studies; Terry Crotty in the college's office of student support; and Patsy Howaniec, assistant to the dean, who recently shared their experiences as mentors.
After filling out applications that ask reasons for wanting to be mentors, interests and backgrounds, the volunteers went through a three-hour training workshop given by Creative Mentoring. Before they met their students, rules were established, such as no gifts, no contact away from school and a commitment to spend between half an hour and 45 minutes a week with the student.
All three women, who had raised families, said they enjoy working with children and established positive relationships with their students.
Brinley said the goal of the program is to give children an opportunity to bond with older adults on a one-to-one basis. Once a week, she took her lunch hour and would visit with a third-grade girl.
"We did a lot of activities togethercrafts, games, puzzles and made cards for holidays. Gina liked to draw and would ask me to pose for her. The teacher also gave us some worksheets to do so I could give her one-to-one help with her math, writing and reading," she said.
Before coming to UD, Crotty worked in the Meadowood Program for children with disabilities so she already had classroom experience. She was assigned a first-grade girl.
"She was quiet and sweet," Crotty said. "My goal with her was to help her enjoy reading, so we started out with my reading to her. Then, I brought in books for her to read to me, and we listed them in a scrapbook. She was very proud that at the end of the year she had read 20 books."
Howaniec's student was a first-grade boy who liked a TV program with an Australian setting. Howaniec turned this interest into a geography project learning about continents. At the end of the year, a mentor is permitted to give his or her student a small gift, and Howaniec presented Nick with a globe. Another interest they shared was dogsso each brought in pictures of their dogs, which were put in his scrapbook.
Brookside Elementary School has a bulletin board featuring the students of the month, and Howaniec encouraged her first grader to work hard and earn the title.
"I was invited to school when he was made a student of the month, and a woman came in and sat down next to me. When Nick got his award, I was on my feet taking his picture and applauding. Later, when I went up to see Nick, the teacher said, 'Aren't you going to introduce your mother to Mrs. Howniac?' His mother had been sitting next to me, and I'm sure she wondered who was taking pictures of Nick and cheering him on. I then took a picture of both of them, and on Mother's Day, Nick made a frame for it and gave it to his mother."
At the end of the school year, the mentors and children had a get-together, and photographs of each mentor and student were given to them as mementos. The school also gave the mentors a wonderful, thank you brunch, the volunteers said.
The three women said they are looking forward to returning to Brookside next year and to their students. They said that they hope others will join them. "There are other children who would like to have mentors, and it's enjoyable, worthwhile and giving something back," Brinley said.
Theresa Clower, Delaware Mentoring Council, helped design and supervise MentorWorks and is a mentor herself. She said that Brookside School is delighted with the program and hopes it will continue to grow.
Sabrina Pugh, AmeriCorps and VISTA leader with the council and a mentor, surveyed the children, as well as the adults involved. She said the students enjoyed the mentors and activities. In general, the children said their grades were better and they felt better about themselves. They mostly enjoyed crafts, games and reading and least enjoyed homework, she said. ?
Other participants in MentorWorks are Beth Breylinger and Barbara Van Dornick, education; CHEP graduate student Martha Corrozi; Betty Dehel, CHEP; Ann Draper, Norma Gaines-Hanks, Sharon Mouton and Ruthann Schurmann, individual and family studies; Trish Flatley, Delaware Mentoring Council; Charles Whitmore, AmericCorps and VISTA; Debbie Jenson, consumer studies; Christina Mason, urban affairs and public policy; and Lisa Moreland, public administration.
For additional information on MentorWorks, call the Delaware Mentoring Council at 831-0520.
Photo by KATHY FLICKINGER