Teenagers are notorious for having independent streaks; that’s how they grow into well-rounded adults.
While teens often roll their eyes at advice given by parents, they may listen to other adults who can provide pointers in their areas of interest.
Tahlequah High School’s Gifted and Talented Program has offered a mentoring program for 19 years, and the latest crop of students met with mentors during a recent luncheon.
“This is our 19th year of our Gifted and Talented Mentoring Program,” said Donna Spears, coordinator. “We have served over 295 students since the program began. We like to provide a special environment for our gifted students, and believe this program gives them a taste of a career calling.”
According to Spears, the program is very informal. Students choose an area of interest, and if possible, suggest the name of a mentor. Spears and Gifted and Talented Coordinator Libby Osburn then match students and with local professionals, who meet for the first time at the luncheon to outline goals.
Freshman Janeth Starr is paired with a local author.
“I like to write, but generally end up throwing my stuff away,” said Starr. “If it’s an event I’ve really enjoyed and written about, sometimes I’ll keep it. I chose this area because I want to find out where I have problems so I can work on them and fix them.”
Starr admits she plans to pursue a career in information technology, but believes strong writing skills are important, no matter what field she chooses.
Among the professionals at Friday’s event were an artist, a writer, a journalist, a law enforcement officer, a musician and teachers.
The program runs nine weeks, during which time the mentees are required to spend at least nine hours with their mentors.
The pair work up an action plan, which includes a final project to be presented to the Gifted and Talented coordinator. Suggestions for final projects include written or oral reports, a video presentation, tape-recorded interviews, artwork, photographs, lessons plans, newspaper articles and test or experiment results.
THS Principal Jeff Thorne attended the luncheon, and supports the program.
“This is a great way to get our students involved in the community,” said Thorne. “Also just to let your know, students are allowed one full day of excused absence to complete their projects, if need be.”
January is National Mentoring Month, and last week, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and its David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative sponsored Mentor Day at the Capitol.
“The goal of Oklahoma Mentor Day is to recognize outstanding mentors from all types of youth mentoring organizations around the state, and to provide fund, educational activities for the honorees and their mentors to share,” said Beverly Woodrome, director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative.
Oklahoma Mentor Day marked the formal launch of Oklahoma’s Year of Mentoring, which includes public relations activities and events to promote youth mentoring and the development of programs statewide.
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