by Julie Dodd
Peggy Gregory, Bill Fletchner and Nick Ferentinos are the leaders for the Mentor Forums that have been held at three JEA/NSPA conventions — St. Louis, Phoenix, and last week in Washington, D.C. The funding to bring the mentors to the conventions for the forums has been provided by Yellow Chair Foundation.
Starting last summer, Peggy, Bill and Nick began discussing plans for this fall’s Mentor Forum. Other members of the Mentor Committee (including me) have been on the e-mailing of the planning. Sometimes Peggy, Bill and Nick e-mailed back and forth several times in one day as they brainstormed topics and considered the best way to organize the action-packed day. They used our mentor listserv to get input from the mentors about what topics and activities would be most helpful to them.
The agenda went through multiple revisions. They discussed which topics should be covered for the entire group and which topics work best as small group options. The group reviewed curriculum materials that are being used by mentors and mentees. Konnie Krislock told the story of censorship at the school where she is teaching. Judy Robinson led sessions on using audio recorders.
The forum leaders said that changing activities and having a countdown clock helped keep the group moving — and on time.
At the end of the day, the mentors completed an evaluation, which the forum leaders and the rest of the Mentor Committee will use in planning future Mentor Forums and other activities for the mentors.
In addition to this being a great learning and motivational activity, the Forums also enable the mentors and the committee members to get to know each other. Even though almost all of us have been involved in scholstic journalism and been members of JEA for years, we sometimes haven’t met each other until the mentoring program. The 20 mentors who attended this forum represented members of all three cohorts of mentor years. So some were meeting each other for the first time.
Following the forum, we all went to The Front Page for a group dinner and celebration of the mentoring program. Throughout the rest of the convention, the mentors presented sessions, attended sessions, and judged student contests.
The next Mentor Forum will be held at the JEA/NSPA convention in Portland, Oregon, in April.
Peggy, Bill and Nick — Thanks for your good work on planning and running this forum. We look foward to seeing what you plan for Portland.