May 2017
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May's Mentor of the Month
Erin Kourkounis

1. How did you become involved in mentoring through the Hillsborough Education Foundation?
I moved to Tampa from Pensacola a few years ago and was looking for ways to get involved in the community. Before I moved, I mentored an elementary-school student, and had really been missing it. I wanted to do similar volunteer work here, but perhaps with an older student. When I began a new job as the marketing coordinator for the Hillsborough Education Foundation two years ago, it was the perfect opportunity to start mentoring again. I was so impressed with the Take Stock in Children program, and loved the idea of staying with the same student all the way until high school graduation.

2. What  has been the most rewarding part of mentoring?
I've really enjoyed getting to know Stefanie, my smart, witty and kind mentee, and I'd say the most rewarding part of this experience is knowing that I'm making at least a small difference in her life. Our Thursday morning meetings set a positive, happy tone for the rest of my day. We have great conversations about all sorts of topics ranging from books to a summer internship she is applying for. We are wrapping up our first year together, and I can't wait to see how our relationship grows in the second year.

3. What do you believe is the key to being a quality mentor?
I believe just being there consistently for your mentee is key - showing up when you say you will, and letting them know you are in their corner. Being a good listener is also key to being a quality mentor. I try to let my mentee guide our discussions, and will share my own life experiences when it's relevant to do so.

4.When you are not working with students, how do you prefer to spend your free time?
I love running, doing yoga, cooking, trying new restaurants, going to the beach/being outside in general, spending time with friends and family and hanging out with my dog. I travel whenever I get the chance - I recently got to spend two weeks in Europe.

5. What do you hope your mentee will learn from you?
That she can make anything happen for herself with hard work and determination and to look toward the future with an open mind.

Millennial Minute

Teenagers rarely speak to their parents about their online experiences, according to recent research.
"There seems to be a disconnect between what types of situations teens experience every day and what types of experiences parents have online," says study author Pamela Wisniewski, a former postdoctoral scholar in information sciences and technology at Penn State.
"Teens tended to be more nonchalant and say that the incident made them embarrassed, while parents, even though they were reporting more low-risk events, emoted much stronger feelings, becoming angry and scared. For teens, some felt these types of experiences were just par for the course."
A few examples of these situations include cyber-bullying, sexual exchanges, and viewing inappropriate content online. 
This disconnection may keep teens from talking about situations that may upset their parents. 
"When you asked why teens didn't talk to their parents, a lot of times they mention risky situations, which they didn't think were a big deal, but they add that if they told their parents, they would just freak out and make things worse," says Wisniewski, now an assistant professor in computer science at the University of Central Florida.
She adds that while overreacting may curb communication, parents should avoid acting dismissive when a teen does come to them with an issue.
"When teens actually talked to their parents about what had happened, they often wanted help understanding or navigating the situation, but parents tended to misinterpret their intent, not realizing that their teens were trying to open lines of communication," says Wisniewski. "It seemed like a missed opportunity."
Bottom Line for Mentors
While this research is primarily aimed towards parents' relationships with their children, there are some important takeaways for mentors seeking to foster a supportive environment for potentially difficult conversations.
It may be that teenagers are (understandably) uncomfortable discussing certain topics or experiences with their parents and will turn to a trusted adult mentor as a source of support. Should this occur, it is important that you, as a mentor, remain calm and treat their questions seriously. Doing so acts as a signal of respect for the youth's experiences, encouraging them to speak candidly.
Further, teens have very different experiences online than do the majority of adults. They also process these experiences differently. Understanding their perspective can go a long way in not only connecting with your mentee, but also finding ways of showing them why certain online behaviors are troubling. 
Ultimately, withholding immediate judgment when a teen has reached out to you with questions or to talk about their experiences can be a key sign to the youth that you want to hear them out and understand their feelings. This trusted space can serve as a stepping stone for many conversations down the line, building a closer, more lasting mentoring relationship.

 Recent Events
Mentor Appreciation Party

On Thursday, the 27th of April we celebrated our annual Mentor Appreciation Party. It was a night of festivities filled with plenty of prizes, food, and the opportunity for mentors to meet the families of their students. We thank everyone able to make it out, and we especially want to thank Citi for graciously hosting the event at their center. 
Here a few photos taken from the evening:

 Upcoming Events
TSIC Volunteer Days

The Hillsborough Education Foundation is presenting two days when you and your respective mentee can volunteer in our very own Teaching Tools Store. The store receives thousands of dollars worth of donations annually to aid teachers throughout the county. In order to efficiently sort and package the supplies, we appreciate the extra hands that volunteer provide.
Also, this is a great way for you to meet with your mentee in the summer months. The two dates are Monday, the 10th of July (9:00 am-12:00 pm) and Thursday, the 27th of July (1:00 pm-4:00 pm). If interested, please RSVP by  clicking here or by emailing  Julia Carter.

Mark Your Calendar!
Last Day of School May 26 HCPS
TSIC Volunteer Day July 10 HEF
TSIC Volunteer Day July 27 HEF

The College Success Team
Teddy Marcelo       Anna Laird          Julia Carter        William Dailey   
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If you know someone who is interested in mentoring, 
have them visit our website for more information: