We kicked off our Project MALES (PM) Mentoring Program Retreat on Monday, January 21st, 2019 with undergraduate mentors, graduate student coordinators, and staff in attendance for the day-long mentoring session. For the seventh year in a row, Project MALES (PM) dedicated the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a day of service to honor his legacy by participating in our annual mentoring retreat.
Dr. Emmet Campos, Project MALES Director, began the PM Retreat with an official Retreat welcome. Dr. Campos shared with the group a history of the Project MALES Mentoring Program and how it had grown from one school (Travis Early College High School) eight years ago to now eighteen schools and two school districts serving almost 200 young men of color in weekly mentoring sessions.
Alonzo Blankership with Austin ISD provided a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Practices Workshop, that informs our mentoring curriculum practices by incorporating SEL into the five Project MALES themes/pillars; Brotherhood, Leadership, College and Career Readiness, Health and Wellness, and Identity that provide a framework for our mentoring curriculum.
After a short break, Victor Martin and Sascha Fischel-Freeman, two of our graduate student site coordinators, started with a “Cultural Bingo” ice-breaker. Mentors were instructed to find others based on interesting facts on the bingo card. Thus, our mentors were able to learn more about each other to create better rapport and build community.
Melissa Ibarra and Veronica Silva with Austin ISD led a Restorative Practices Workshop to show mentors how to implement and build a personal connection, belonging, equity, and inclusiveness for our middle school and high school students, schools, and communities. They provided talking circle guidelines to share effective techniques to understand each other and how to create respect with students through interactive engagement. Then, they led an activity where mentors shared the meaning and significance of their name and what it was based on in order to build and develop relationships and community.
The second workshop was led by Brittany Gibson, Director of Recruitment and Engagement with the Relay Graduate School. Brittany engaged our students in a dialogue emphasizing social justice in the classroom, including direct practice by implementing various mentoring scenarios tying them to the teachings of MLK.
Jorge Rodriguez, Consortium Program Coordinator, and Rodrigo Aguayo, Mentor Program Coordinator, provided an overview of Project MALES mentor program, mentor expectations, and closure of the retreat.
As always, our 2019 Project MALES MLK Day Mentor Retreat provides a great kickstart to our semester of mentoring programming. We are thankful for the commitment and dedication of our mentors, guest speakers, and mentoring staff who serve our middle and high school boys and men of color at the middle and high schools we serve in Austin ISD and Del Valle ISD. Please stay tuned as we will be profiling our mentoring sites, mentoring events, and activities throughout the semester and summer.