Mentoring Program Receives $86,000 Grant from First Niagara Foundation in Partnership with KeyBank
Dr. Kathy Broikou and Dr. Joellen Maples, two faculty members from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education at St. John Fisher College, recently received a $86,202 grant from First Niagara Foundation in partnership with KeyBank to fund the continuation of a mentoring partnership between the College and World of Inquiry School No. 58.
This multi–year commitment is a part of First Niagara’s Legacy Mentoring Initiative, which provides continued support to quality youth mentoring programs throughout the former bank’s legacy markets, now served by KeyBank. First Niagara, which was acquired by KeyBank in mid-2016, has supported student mentoring programs at the College for the past eight years. All of the grants were obtained in collaboration with Fisher’s Office of Sponsored Research.
The Mentoring program brings together undergraduates—many studying in the School of Education—and middle school students at the World of Inquiry School in three settings to reinforce academic skills and build relationships between the two groups.
The program offers an extended school day program for 90 seventh and eighth-grade students, two days a week from September through May. In the after-school program, World of Inquiry students work with six of Fisher’s First Generation Scholars to engage in leadership activities, complete homework assignments, and build competencies in English Language Arts and math.
Students from Maples’ two-sequence literacy courses, Content Area Literacy and Differentiated Literacy Instruction for Middle School Child and Adolescent Learners, also work with World of Inquiry students throughout the academic year.
During the fall semester, Fisher students host a book club, reading a shared text with the World of Inquiry students and leading a discussion on the themes and real-life issues presented in the book. This fall, the book club is reading Monster by Walter Dean Meyers, a novel Maples said lends itself to discussions about African American male teen incarceration, concepts of masculinity, and peer pressure. For Fisher students, it’s a chance to develop skills leading small group discussions.
“One of the goals is to help our students—in a safe, small space—practice talking to kids about these difficult topics,” she explained. “To hear the perspective of the kids is interesting to our students and helps them learn to have discussions around hot topics and teach students they haven’t had shared experiences with in their own education.”
In the spring semester, the same Fisher students return to World of Inquiry to deliver a literacy enrichment program. Each Fisher student develops weekly lesson plans for a group of four World of Inquiry students on vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing skills. Maples said this underscores for the teacher candidates the value of building rapport and personal relationships with students. And, for the World of Inquiry students, the benefits extend beyond honing literacy and reading comprehension skills. It’s a chance to develop relationships with undergraduates who can be a source of advice on the college search process and share their experiences as college students.
“The main goal is to provide mentorship,” said Maples, “The college students help the middle schoolers with their academics and the School 58 students get enjoyment out of knowing they are helping to prepare future teachers—it’s a really nice relationship.”