Tips from a Successful Mentoring Program Coordinator

We recently sat down with Jordan Summers, the Music Mentoring and Youth Development Coordinator for Berklee City Music Boston, to get some tips on how to foster successful mentor/mentee relationships in a program that consists of about 80 participants in the Boston area.  Mentors are Berklee students and mentees consist of local middle school and high school-aged youth from underserved areas that have auditioned for City Music programs. The program provides mentees with 3.5 hours of instruction per week that includes a one-on-one music coaching, theory class, and ensemble rehearsal.

City Music Mentoring Program Collage
City Music Mentoring Program

 

Jordan broke down her keys for program success into the “3 R’s”: Research, Recruit, Relationship

Research

Jordan frequently uses free online tools to enhance Mentorship programming. There are several non-profit organizations that provide guidance for mentor programs in the form of networking, helpful information, and organizational tools.  She said that she regularly checks for new resources like handbooks, activity ideas, and training information from the websites of the following established national mentoring organizations:

  • http://www.mentoring.org: Mentoring program that develops quality resources to advance mentoring program effectiveness and innovation, while sharing knowledge among mentoring programs, and works to drive increased investment to sustain and grow mentoring programs nationwide.
  • http://www.massmentors.org: Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) helps to fuel the movement to expand empowering youth-adult relationships to meet the needs of communities across Massachusetts.
  • http://www.nationalmentoringmonth.org:  Focuses national attention on the need for mentors, and how businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure positive outcomes for young people.

Recruit

“Always be looking for mentors!” Jordan advises. Because City Music mentors are usually full-time Berklee College of Music students, Jordan is sure to have a “back up for the back up”.  She sources her mentors from general interest meetings that she advertises through the college, referrals from Berklee faculty and staff, a recruiting table that she sets-up at college events, and through informational materials she places around campus.  Jordan also leverages the program’s many success stories to encourage students to sign-up.

Show Value:  Jordan knows that Berklee students are more likely to sign-up as mentors if she can show them the value of being a mentor goes beyond spending time with a kid in need of music instruction and someone to hang out with after school.  Jordan said that her mentors oftentimes tell her that they have become more aware of their own learning style through the applied teaching of their mentee.  Following graduation from Berklee, several of her City Music mentors have requested and received recommendation letters and connections with industry professionals throughout the Berklee City Music National Network.

Relationship

For the mentor’s first contact with their mentee, Jordan provides them with a “first call” template/script to make communication effective and easy.  She also put together a handbook for mentors that contains best practices and acts as a trouble-shooting guide to get the relationship off to a great start.

Jordan plans at least one non-music activity per month and told us that “pizza always works!”  She highlighted the importance of taking the mentors and mentees out of the context of a demanding learning environment.

Jordan left us with her favorite quote to share with new mentors/mentees, “In learning, you will teach and in teaching, you will learn.”

Click here for more information on the City Music Mentoring Program.

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