Launched in 2013 by the Cleveland Foundation, Encore Cleveland helps to connect and fund a network of organizations to provide experienced Greater Clevelanders an array of meaningful opportunities in the community upon retirement or near the end of their primary careers. In our “Spotlight Encore Cleveland” guest blog series, we go behind-the-scenes to explore the many opportunities available through Encore Cleveland. Learn about the Encore Mentoring Program at Teach For America in this guest blog from the organization:
The Encore Mentoring Program at Teach For America creates opportunities for community members to build civic mentoring relationships with Teach for America teachers, also known as “corps members.” Our goal is for each corps member to feel more broadly connected to the community, through expanded opportunities to engage in the civic life of Greater Cleveland. Mentors in the program connect with corps members who are working in low-income communities in Cleveland, Lorain and Maple Heights.
At the core of our Encore opportunity is the individual connection between a mentor and a corps member – and the transformational change that can result from that connection for the teachers and the students.
David and Judy Devore have been involved in Encore Mentoring with Teach For America for nearly three years. We sat down to discuss their experience.
What three words describe the mentoring relationships you’ve had through Teach For America?
Meaningful, fun, and supportive.
What drew you to Teach For America’s mentoring program?
As former teachers we were looking for a way to give back. We wanted to continue doing meaningful things in education without actually being in the classroom every day. We both have a background of working with and mentoring student teachers and our experiences, skills and interests seemed like a good fit and an enjoyable way to apply our talents.
What do you find challenging about this mentoring program?
It is challenging to find a common time to meet together since everyone is so busy. It’s hard to meet and enjoy time together.
What do you find rewarding?
It is rewarding to watch new teachers grow and change. Watching the Teach For America teachers effectively engage in the classroom and gain mastery in teaching is rewarding. We are watching them transform students’ lives.
Any interesting stories from your experience with a Teach For America corps member?
One of our corps members, Ben Colas, won awards through Accelerate NEO at the Cleveland Leadership Center and then through JumpStart to create “kinder kits” to give to every kindergarten student at school registration. Kinder kits include everyday items like shaving cream and cereal along with instructions and checklists for parents on the skills children should learn before entering kindergarten. We, along with some other Teach For America teachers, worked as a team to help Ben assemble 500 kits to give to the new students. It was an enjoyable, constructive day working together and for such a great purpose.
Why should someone else consider giving their time to the Encore Mentoring program with Teach For America?
Being a Teach For America mentor is an excellent way to give back to the community. It provides an opportunity to enrich people’s lives and to interact with young professionals as they begin a new career – and hopefully keep them connected in Cleveland. Education is the key to the future – and mentoring with Teach For America teachers is an excellent way to make a difference.
Teach For America’s mentors, just like our corps members, come from all walks of life and backgrounds. If you are interested in helping Teach For America work towards educational excellence and equity in Greater Cleveland, please email Patrick Britton at firstname.lastname@example.org.