Title

Spark Mentoring: Be the Change

First Presenter's Institution

Gordon State College

Second Presenter's Institution

Gordon State College

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Meet & Greet Poster Reception (Harborside)

Strand #1

Family & Community

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

Spark mentoring provides college students with the opportunity to learn leadership skills while offering support to youth at risk. During the mentoring program, college students partner with local youth- and family-serving organizations to support the development of confidence, competence, and compassion in the youth. Spark mentoring is unique in that it is a group mentoring program that allows for more diverse experiences for young adult students and adolescent participants. The activities for each evening are focused on creating a sense of community while building communication skills and emotional intelligence.

Brief Program Description

Spark mentoring is a community-based program that brings together college students and at-risk adolescents. We focus on designing experiences that support positive youth development, including character, confidence, competence, caring, and connection. Our poster will offer a description of the Spark mentoring program along with our outcome data. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of the faculty advisor and a student mentor.

Summary

Mentoring is an ancient art. Whether we know it or not, most of us are engaged in some form of mentoring on a regular basis. According to Laurent Daloz (1999), “mentors are guides” (p. 18). He goes on to describe the function of a mentor as accompanying another on a transformative journey. College professors have the opportunity to serve as mentors for many students. We recognize the importance of being authentic and present in these relationships, knowing that true growth can only happen in an environment of challenge and support. As much as we would like to think that the ability to create this environment came naturally, we now recognize this as a set of skills that allows us to provide the necessary elements for a successful mentoring relationship.

The purpose of our research was to determine if the Spark mentoring program achieves optimal development through the five Cs. The five Cs are character, competence, confidence, caring, and connection. The Spark mentors evaluate each evening’s activity on every C, on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. As quantitative data are collected, qualitative research consisted of testimonies from the mentors based on the activities each week. We found an increase in our quantitative reports of activities that supported the five Cs of optimal development. Quantitative data indicated specific elements that were perceived to be valuable in supporting development.

Spark mentoring is an effective mentoring model. We have provided youth with the opportunity to build relationships with young adults in a safe environment. Some of the college students have shared stories of abuse and trauma that had remained trapped within their bodies for years. Because of the authenticity of the mentors and the depth of their relationships, some of the youth have expressed that they now have hope that they can make it through their challenges. Several students have stated that they never thought they could go to college, but now they think they can. These types of experiences have been healing, both for the youth and the college students.

Evidence

The research is based on decades of research in the field of mentoring. It is also based on our recent experience with implementing a group mentoring program.

Buber, M. (1971). I and Thou. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Bullard, D. (2019). Re-Pairing: Seven Principles for Enlightening Conversations. TARKA (15), 5-10.

Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Johnson, R. (2019). Oppression Embodied: The Intersecting Dimensions of Trauma, Oppression, and Somatic Psychology. TARKA (13), 31-59.

Lutz, J. (2019). Guidelines for Teaching Nervous System-Informed, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (NITYA) to Survivors of Psychological Trauma. TARKA (13), 20-22.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Jessica Traylor was a School Psychologist in Georgia for over 10 years. As a School Psychologist, Dr. Traylor evaluated students, attended special education meetings, provided individual and group counseling, and spent a lot of time consulting with parents and teachers. Because she was constantly being asked to provide professional development for teachers, and wanted more knowledge about how adults learn, she chose to pursue a doctorate in adult learning. She has presented at National and International conferences covering topics such as collaboration, rural education, self-regulated learning, self-efficacy, experiential learning, and mental wellness.

Dr. Traylor has spent the past few years been teaching a variety of psychology and human service courses for two different colleges. Her favorite courses are Psychology of Adjustment and Conflict Resolution. She is excited to work closely with Gordon State College students as the advisor for the Human Services Club and the Baptist Collegiate Ministries student organization.

In addition to her formal degrees, Dr. Traylor is also a certified yoga instructor, holistic nutrition coach, and therapeutic drumming instructor. She is the author of The Dynamic Balance (a blog about psychology and life) and co-author of Real Girls (a group counseling curriculum).

Hailey Suarez is a sophomore at Gordon State College. She is majoring in Psychology and Nursing. Hailey has conducted research on the Spark mentoring program since the beginning of her freshman year. She enjoys presenting her research to audiences across Georgia. So far, Hailey's research has been presented at the Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference and the Gordon State College Undergraduate Symposium.

When she is not studying or analyzing data, Hailey enjoys spending time with her family and serving as a Spark mentor. Hailey plans to continue her studies at Gordon State College. She hopes to graduate with her AS in Psychology in May 2020 and with her BSN in Nursing in May 2022. She would like to use her education to pursue a career in mental health nursing.

Keyword Descriptors

mentoring, communication skills, positive youth development, adult-youth partnerships, university partnerships, building community, emotional intelligence, student research

Presentation Year

March 2020

Start Date

3-9-2020 4:45 PM

End Date

3-9-2020 6:00 PM

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Mar 9th, 4:45 PM Mar 9th, 6:00 PM

Spark Mentoring: Be the Change

Meet & Greet Poster Reception (Harborside)

Spark mentoring is a community-based program that brings together college students and at-risk adolescents. We focus on designing experiences that support positive youth development, including character, confidence, competence, caring, and connection. Our poster will offer a description of the Spark mentoring program along with our outcome data. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of the faculty advisor and a student mentor.