CILCE Corner: Tutor-mentor Reflects on the Semester Thus far

At our last CILCE meeting, Kate Caffrey smiled as she told the rest of the staff about a wonderful interaction with a Tutor-Mentor student. A few weeks ago, a student stopped by her office to thank her for finding him a spot with the program this fall despite the fact that he had missed the application deadline. The experience, he said, was one of the highlights of his four years at St. Thomas, and he will be returning – hopefully to the same site – for the spring semester.

Over the past four years that she has worked with the program, Kate has grown accustomed to students going out of their way to express their gratitude. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, it seems appropriate. This kind of big-picture processing is encouraged in the Tutor-Mentor program; in fact, it is a structured part of the semester – the reflection.

As we approached the halfway point for fall 2011, students from the Tutor-Mentor (TM) program took a break from midterms to share their experiences with each other and discuss the important roles they play in the lives of their mentees. During the first week of November, students attended one of three different reflection sessions.

Leading one of them was Julia Brandes, a first-year teacher at Global Academy. As a graduate of UST and a former Tutor-Mentor student director, Julia explained the connection between her work in the program and her role in the classroom. Dr. Barbara Gorski, Business 200 instructor, spoke about how to make the most of your service work by using the skills learned in the program to enhance your résumé, job interviews and eventually your career. Finally, Michael Raimondi, UST faculty member and director at College Prep Elementary, closed the series with his discussion of the importance of the TM students’ roles in working with culturally diverse populations.

The Tutor-Mentors’ responses to the reflection were overwhelmingly positive. Kara Baumgardner found it helpful, and came away with “a lot of ideas of how (the program) relates to the job world.” Kristen O’Brien enjoyed reflection because “it helped explain how diversity impacts the school environment and the importance of tutors recognizing these differences among the students.”

If you are interested in participating in the Tutor-Mentor Program, applications for next semester will be available at the CILCE Center (MHC 153) at the beginning of next semester.

The CILCE staff is thankful for all the Tutor-Mentor participants, and feels that taking time for reflection is an important piece of the program and the center’s goal to enhance student learning through experience. We encourage you to take a moment to reflect on what you are thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!