Friday, May 15, 2009

Chicago Youth Centers - Mentoring at Price School

In my travels throughout the city, in order to visit tutoring and mentoring programs, I have visited Evanston, the Near North Side, Avondale, the Loop, Bucktown, Lincoln Park, Rogers Park, Pilsen, North Lawndale, Wicker Park, West Town, Humboldt Park, and the Near West Side. These neighborhoods compromise parts of the North, Northwest, and West Side neighborhoods. In evaluating where I had visited, I realized I had seriously been neglecting visiting programs on the South Side. This was a thing that needed to be remedied - not just because it would expand the scope of my visits, but also because it would shift my focus to an area that has high levels of poverty and is in great need of more tutoring and mentoring programs.

Fortunately, in my efforts to reach out to other tutoring and mentoring programs to come to the May Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, I heard back from Christy Beigh-Byrne, the Director of Mentor and Volunteer Services at Chicago Youth Centers-Elliott Donnelly Center. She invited me to visit their school-based mentoring program at Price Elementary School in Bronzeville.

Chicago Youth Centers operates a variety of programs throughout the city. Chris Warren and I had already visited ABC Polk Brothers Center in North Lawndale, where they have a variety of programs. Elliott Donnelly Center, which is located in Bronzeville as well, has a variety of programs that operate out of their center on South Michigan Ave., but also has a mentoring program run out of Price Elementary School.

Chicago Youth Centers teams up with CPS high schools and Chicago-area universities in order to find mentors, who are able to come in during the after-school hours of 3-4:15 in order to mentor the students. I spoke to mentors who went to UIC and Northesastern Illinois, and both of them were very enthusiastic about working with their students. For this program, mentors means more tutor-mentors in a similar model to the one we use here at Cabrini Connections. Fourth-Sixth Grade students go around to different stations with their tutor/mentors: spelling, reflection, homework help, and math. At the end of the session, students gather in a circle and discuss what went well in the session and what needs to be worked on. I was really impressed with how self-reflective all the students were, knowing what their weaknesses were but also knowing to celebrate their strengths.

While both the students and mentors told Chris and me that they were having an "off day," Chris and I were very impressed with the level of dedication of the mentors and the students. Our only thought would be to extend the mentoring session for another hour simply so the students and tutors have more time together. Thanks to Christy for inviting us down to Bronzeville!

1 comment:

Ricky said...

What's the diffrence between Homework assistance and tutoring?