“On Being Mentored”  was a panel discussion with mentees at the JEA Kansas City Convention in the Fall of 2010.

by Peggy Gregory

The panel included Diane Hicks, mentor Gary Lindsey; Jessica Young, mentor Konnie Krislock; and Erica Rickard, former mentor Mary Anne McCloud who was also her high school journalism teacher

What is one way you have been assisted by your mentor?

Jessica:  Konnie sat with staff as they critiqued an issue of their publication. The students had attended a summer workshop led by Konnie and requested an honest appraisal. Four students were present at the panel and said they often receive praise on campus which was validated by Konnie who also added constructive criticism. This helped Jessica by echoing her previous appraisal of students’ work.  Konnie also gives students suggestions for further improvement during her visits which entail a 90-mile commute. “It’s nice to have another journalism teacher who really knows what it’s like,” said Jessica. Konnie also communicates with the administration in a positive way and lets them know how well everyone is doing, Jessica said.

Diane: Her staff recently had to cover a suicide and did not have a policy. Students even staged a sit in because no moment of silence for the boy had been observed. Diane asked Gary for wisdom about how to handle a story including and where it should be run. Gary, who is still teaching, helped with ideas from his experience. Diane said she and her students learned about good coverage finally deciding to downplay the suicide in the newspaper doing an “In memory of Logan” piece in the newspaper and will run a memorial page in the yearbook before the ads. The staff now has a suicide policy “under construction.” Gary stays in touch with Diane through emails and phone calls with communication going both ways. “It’s nice to know there’s this angel out there who knows what’s going on. It’s just a wonderful program,” Diane said.

Erica: Although Erica is no longer an official mentee, Mary Anne still helps with advice as needed. Since she often subs for Erica, Mary Anne’s appearance is not an anomaly in class. It is only if both teachers are present on campus that the students comment. Mary Anne has helped Erica keep challenges, especially with time, in perspective. “She has helped me realize there is life outside the classroom, and that I need to help the students be more efficient in classroom, so they can do sports and such outside of classroom.” This has also helped Erica, who has a new baby, keep her sanity.

All agreed that having a mentor was extremely helpful. “It was helpful to have someone help me see the positives,” Erica said. “I sometimes just mark what’s wrong on student papers, so it’s been nice to have someone point out what has gone well versus just the negative.”