Welcome to Learning is for Everyone of Tampa

LIFE of Tampa welcomes everyone, of all races, ethnicities, religions, family compositions, sexual orientations, learning styles, lifestyles, abilities and disabilities, and asks only that rules of civility, kindness and compassion be honored by all, for all.

This homepage and our online discussion group serve as an announcement and resource list for a variety of activities and events.

Visit LIFE of Florida for a great list of statewide and general learning resources.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reinvigorating Tampa Bay Mentor Match

A new report from America's Promise Alliance revisits the need for more mentors in America. The story talks mostly about public school graduation rates, which continues to be rather dismal ( only 53% graduate from high school on time).

Beyond the drop-out issue, though, the story goes on to say, “… with 15 million American children needing and wanting mentors, we continue to push for mentoring programs, funding and involvement to help our young people graduate from high school and succeed in life."

Tampa Bay Mentor Match is right here at home, providing just such a mentoring opportunity for Bay area youth, not specifically for drop out prevention , which is the usual use for mentoring and always a welcome by-product, but for personal enrichment and to help with academic, and career planning and exploration, as well as for just plain fun.

We’ve let TBMM languish a bit, but it’s time to visit it agaiin and reinvigorate it, so we can all enjoy both learning and teaching together in a new and more far reaching way.

So I’m doing a new call for Mentors as well as for Students interested in learning more – about anything! Here’s how it works:

Our Mentoring collaborative can provide opportunities for apprenticeship and the tapping of insights and ideas from willing adults who have experience in areas in which our kids are interested.

Spending time with an expert mentor – once a week, once a month, for an occasional lunch out, or for a day with someone where he or she works – can:

1) Help guide interested kids in their learning and career choices;

2) Connect them at the community level with respect to their interests;

3) Give them adult perspectives different from those in their own


4) And give them a realistic, hands-on look at careers and interests.

Mentoring is also a more realistic way for experts to help – it's certainly less time consuming than teaching a class, it's more personal, and certainly potentially more meaningful and enduring. Just the fact that you're not working with a group, but one on one makes it easier for kids to ask questions, and for experts to give more contextual replies and guidance.

So where are we going with all of this? We’re going to YOU!

What do you do? Whatever it is, you can rest assured that some child, somewhere in our community, is interested. If you're willing to act as a mentor to youth in your community – and you determine completely what that means with respect to your time and energy -- call me or drop me a line with a short overview of your expertise and how you think you can help a child with your shared interest.

And think about people you know – tap them for their willingness to mentor youth. For teens, that might include a day with the mentor, or regular visits at work, or possibly apprenticeships. For younger children, you'd probably want to accompany them, or have the mentor over to your home.

We build the MentorMatch directory. You decide all the comfort levels and parameters. We can do so much more than we're doing, and we can much better utilize the human capital we've got in great abundance here.

And ask your kids what they'd really like to learn about, what they're interested in. You might think you know. You might not! Then post your “seeking mentor” request here. And then we can take the whole thing even further with our online University of LIFE at :http://universityoflife.myicourse.com/

Anyone can be a "faculty" member of the University of LIFE. "Courses" can be long or short – a resource list; a couple pages of instructional material about something; a paper; a how-to. You name it, and we can do it. It's extraordinarily easy to use Myicourse, and it's completely free. We’ve got our First Amendment course on there now and can easily add more material.

The thing is, we can do so much more than we're doing, and we can much better utilize the human capital we've got in great abundance here.

So let me know what you think. Tell me what you do and how you can share it. Let's create a real learning community!

If you'd like to join us, drop us a line at info@learningis4everyone.org to request membership to the Wiki, and we'll help you get started.

Terri Willingham