In observation of National Engineers Week, IBM mentors reunited with their protégés from New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) for a day of learning and fun. Below, IBM mentor Julie Arthofer writes about her continuing relationship with her P-TECH protégé, and the school’s recent E-Week celebration activities.
It is often hard to filter through hundreds of emails a day, and there is always a fear that one will be missed or accidently deleted. Luckily this was not the case when I received an email about becoming a mentor at New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH). Mentoring is something I have been involved in since high school, and I had been looking for another mentoring opportunity since. I responded instantly and was thrilled when I was selected as a mentor for P-TECH.
P-TECH is unique in that it offers students the opportunity to graduate with an Associate degree in technology after just six years of schooling. Today, P-TECH serves as a model for similar schools to come, and I am proud to be working for the company that helped make this school a reality.
The kick-off event for mentors and protégés not only gave us an opportunity to meet the students and get a feel for their learning environment, but also gave us a chance to meet the teachers who would be helping shape their education. We also were fortunate to meet Principal Rashid Ferrod Davis who demonstrated his commitment to his students and to
P-TECH’s mission with a moving speech.
Following the short presentations, the room became a bit chaotic as we split up to find our protégés. Once I paired up with my protégé, Jenyce, we sat down in a classroom and went through a list of “break the ice” questions to get to know each other better. We did not quite make it through the entire list of questions, as we easily got sidetracked by other topics ranging from our most embarrassing moments to debates over which pop star is better.
As the event wrapped up, Jenyce and I had to cut our meeting short, but we were both very excited for the mentoring program to officially start. Jenyce and I now correspond weekly on the IBM MentorPlace website, where activities are posted to stimulate our conversations and usually relate to what the students are learning in school. There is also a discussion board where we can touch base and check in with one another in a more informal way. Recently, P-TECH students were given an assignment to write a biographical sketch about a social innovator, and mentors were asked to provide feedback. It was extremely rewarding to read Jenyce’s initial draft and see how she incorporated the suggestions I had given her, and to see the immense improvements in her writing and her growth as a student.
I have also become involved with P-TECH outside of the weekly MentorPlace activities.
As part of a NYC Community Service committee that holds monthly events, I was able to organize an event at P-TECH – “Engineering Week (E-Week) that P-Tech got involved with this year. E-Week is a program devoted to promoting engineering at schools around the nation, and organizes hands-on activities related to engineering to get the students involved. For P-TECH’s E-Week activity, the students built a rocket ship using a straw, balloons, and one small cup. The goal was for the students to launch the ship up an eight-foot fishing line carrying the highest number of washers. We also had a speaker with an extensive engineering background attend the event to explain the lessons to be learned from the activity.
I was very excited for this opportunity to see the students at P-TECH once again. In this world of technology and constant communication via the Internet, it is always great to put a face with the name every now and then!
Julie Arthofer is an IBM Global Business Services Strategy and Information Consultant.