MENTOR Rhode Island Helps Build a Foundation For a Mentoring Program at Providence Career and Technical Academy
Created in 2016, the Providence Rhode Island P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School), housed in the Providence Career and Technical Academy helps provide high school students the opportunity to be trained for high paying and satisfying careers in IT/Computer Science. The P-TECH initiative encourages communities to work together to create a pathway for students to not only graduate high school, but graduate with the education and experience to make a choice about their next steps, whether it be the workforce or to continue their studies. Students enroll in the program in the 9th grade, and work towards getting their high school diploma as well as attending classes to receive their Associate’s Degree in Computer Science. The program also includes a mentoring component, facilitated by a local industry liaison who works with the school to match students with a mentor in the computer science field. The program works with Tech Collective, an industry alliance for high tech companies, to create a connection between students and potential employers. Each incoming freshman in the program gets matched with someone in the industry. They correspond through a web portal and work on activities designed by the school that helps the students work on business skills.
According to Sue Thomas from MENTOR Rhode Island, P-TECH Industry Liaison Kris Turgeon was the first P-TECH in the area to reach out to begin work on the mentoring component of the program. MENTOR RI, a Rhode Island based NMRC Technical Assistance provider, worked with Kris and the Providence P-TECH program to build on key components of their mentoring program. About their first meeting, Kris stated, “When I started the process, I thought I knew all the parts I needed to know… Our first discussion really helped refine what it is was we were capable of doing and what our goals for the program were. Their expertise in knowing what it really takes to create those connections, and the extent of what issues we face and how to solve them was really valuable.”
|Photo: Christopher Margadonna from MENTOR RI|
MENTOR RI assisted in creating trainings for new mentors, creating an agenda for those trainings, as well as running the event alongside the P-TECH and Tech Collective staff. Kris Turgeon found that to be incredibly helpful, as she was able to observe and learn from the experience. Kris also mentioned the addition of an optional monthly breakfast which all mentors and mentees are encouraged to attend, an event added by MENTOR RI’s suggestion. Sue Thomas commented, “At first the mentoring was all supposed to be virtual with 1 or 2 face to face contacts per year. Because of the TA work with the NMRC and MENTOR Rhode Island, Kris’ knowledge of the Elements of Effective Practice has had a profound effect upon her. In year two, she has increased the amount of ’face time’ with mentors and mentees, and been open to mentee trainings, Kick-Offs, Year-End celebrations etc., culminating in better relationships! Kris has given her all to this initiative, and it shows. In year 2, she is now a ‘mentor’ to other PTECHs, sharing her knowledge and experiences!” When asked why she would recommend TA to other programs, Kris said, “The expertise is out there and it is incredibly valuable… Without them we would have been a full year behind. That was a foundational year, and to have that positive foundation was important. Someone to help you get your feet under you... that was critical to our success. And being able to have discussion-based learning, I couldn’t have done without it.”
|Photo: Diego Ciccia, Fidelity, asks his mentee about why he joined P-TECH|
MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) partners with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to deliver the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) to the mentoring field. In addition to convening a Research Board which develops evidence-based reviews about mentoring topics, and offering a comprehensive mentoring resource center website, the NMRC provides mentoring programs nationwide with the opportunity to request and receive no-cost technical assistance to help them more deeply incorporate evidence-based practices into their programming. Once a mentoring program requests technical assistance, their request is assigned to a local or regional technical assistance provider within MENTOR's network of affiliate Mentoring Partnerships and TA providers. As in the example of the Providence P-TECH, new and emerging mentoring programs may benefit from technical assistance to help them design and implement programs that meet quality standards as outlined in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, while existing or established programs may utilize TA to improve operations, assess impact, or adapt their program to changing or emerging community needs.