President Obama and the First Lady held a press conference on Jan. 20 to honor mentors as part of National Mentoring Month. (Photo from

by Linda Barrington
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair

The month’s almost over and I just found out that January is National Mentoring Month. In fact, President Obama and the First Lady held a press conference on Jan. 20 to honor mentors and mentees. (Text of their address is at

The focus of their remarks was on adults mentoring students, part of a “leadership and mentoring program at the White House for some of the most promising students in Washington, D.C.,” according to Michelle Obama.

The JEA Mentoring Program pairs experienced, usually retired, journalism teachers with new journalism teachers or teachers new to the teaching of journalism. It is through these mentees that our mentors affect the lives of young people across the country in 13 states.

“If compassionate, committed adults are willing to step up,” the President said in his remarks, “then think about the incredible impact that we can have. Think about the potential that we will discover, and the talent that we will nurture, and the lives that we can turn around….That’s the power of mentoring.  That’s the purpose of what all of you are doing across America.”

I hear from the 29 mentors who report every month on their work with these 115 new journalism teachers, and I’m proud of their work as they discover the potential and talent of these mentees. They see firsthand the power of mentoring and the effect it has.

Thank you to the Journalism Education Association for supporting this valuable program. And thank you to our other financial supporters, especially the Yellow Chair Foundation and the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, and all the press associations in the states where our program operates. Your support makes possible our success.