This year, the Carmel Learning Center (CLC), an alternative education service, has created a new mentoring program for its students according to Kelly Douglas, an alternative education teacher at the CLC. Douglas said, “We’re using funds we received from a Carmel Education Foundation grant to develop a mentoring program for some of our students to give them some information and guidance on careers they might have interest in. We’re starting the year with five mentors and they come from several different areas.”
Douglas said the mentors include a nurse from a local hospital, an accountant from VMS BioMarketing, two employees of Adesa Incorporated and an entrepreneur from Franklin Window and Door.
Conor Riley, CLC student and junior, said he has started to work with his mentor from Franklin Window and Door. He said, “I want to figure out what I want to do and being able to work with someone and hear all their experiences as someone that’s older and not my parents—it will give me insight on what I want to do and how to achieve it. I also think it’ll give me a little bit of experience.”
Riley said the students are building and creating a resume. Douglas said this is the second of stage of the mentoring process, and the last phase will happen later this the year.
“Our next contact will be happening shortly; each mentor will be paired with anywhere from one to two students, and our students will send the mentor a resume and get some feedback on their resume and some advice for job interviewing and things to be sure to do, things not to do, and just a little bit more advice on how to land a job,” she said. “Our last contact will be later in the year, and our mentors will, outside of just trying to encourage the students, will also be telling them about what they can do over the summer if they’re interested in looking into those fields.”
Douglas said the program arose after the CLC mentoring went through a program evaluation with the district and later applied for a state grant. The program was given not only an award but also feedback that students needed more community connections and specific assistance on careers in which they showed interest.
She said, “We took that feedback and tried to think of what we could do. We’ve always brought in speakers but we thought ‘what if our speakers could give some kids some more coaching than just a one time presentation.’”
For Riley, being a part of the program helped give him an idea of what working in a professional environment is like. He said, “It’s a lot smaller than a lot of other programs I’ve seen, and it feels more personal because they can look you in the eye and look the person next to you in the eye very easily. It gives you, not just an idea of what you might want to do, but some general tips for achieving what you want to do and figuring out what you want to do, which I’ve never seen or heard before.”
Douglas said CLC plans on growing the program to serve more students in the coming years, as well as starting the program earlier in the school year to allow more students the opportunity to participate in the program.
“I’m excited for our students to learn about careers and how to operate in the real world when (they’re) not just turning in a paper to a teacher, (but) when (they’re) communicating with professionals,” she said about the future. “I hope to develop the students’ communication skills in a professional area and (am) excited to see them work in a real world setting. I’d be very excited if some of our students had an ongoing partnership with their mentors beyond the year. If they weren’t just an academic mentor, but also a mentor outside of school.”