The jump from high school to college can be a difficult transition for many students. That transition can be eased with proper preparation, which is why United Way has partnered with the Middletown High School Future Center to pilot the Middletown High School Speed Mentoring Program.
Senior Kayla Howard and junior Anthony Frazier were two of approximately 60 juniors and seniors who participated in the first Speed Mentoring session at Middletown High School this past February. Both spoke very highly of the program and were in agreement that it particularly aided in boosting their confidence.
“Overall I really liked the Speed Mentoring Program,” said Howard. “I thought it gave me way more confidence when it comes to interviewing with public figures and things like that. I liked being able to talk to different people in my community who gave me great feedback on what they do and what I want to do with my future.”
“I would definitely recommend speed mentoring for pretty much anyone to help them be more confident in life,” said Frazier. “It also helped me from an interview standpoint and having more preparedness for that.”
The Middletown High School Future Center operates under the auspices of United Way agency partner Community Building Institute – Middletown, and is in its inaugural year at the school. The Future Center hosted a training session with community members which included a roundtable discussion of ideas on how to best work with the students of Middletown High School.
Terry Sherrer, director, United Way of Greater Cincinnati – Middletown, had been involved in speed mentoring programs through United Way before, and thought it would be a great fit for a partnership with the new Future Center at Middletown High School.
"The Speed Mentoring program originally came from the mind of (United Way of Greater Cincinnati -- Eastern Area Director) Sarah Ghee," said Sherrer. "It started at Hughes High School where I was one of the mentors, and she took it to the Eastern Area and it's blown up. I really respected the program and I knew it was something that was needed in Middletown. I was one of the mentors for the pilot and it went beyond my expectations."
United Way provided the Future Center with a Community Response Fund grant of $5,000 for the project and all parties were off and running.
“Once Terry told us we could potentially get a grant for this program, we steamrolled ahead,” said Anisha Daniels, program manager, Middletown High School Future Center. “Once we received the grant and I started doing the planning for it, we used our partner list at CBI and United Way used their partner list, and within a couple days I had all the mentors and a wait list.”
The program was a perfect fit for both parties. The Future Center was looking for a new program to help their students in its first year, and the program hit the target for three of United Way’s Bold Goals for Our Region – 85% of youth will graduate from high school prepared for the next step, 45% of adults will have an associate’s degree or higher, and 90% of the labor force will be gainfully employed.
“The collaboration was a beautiful part of what this truly was,” said Daniels. “Once we looked at what our mission was, and looked at the goals and mission of United Way, I knew this would be a great partnership. I was truly impressed with the Bold Goals, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Once that collaboration happened and we got our groups, it was all about preparing the students.”
Community Partner Participants
Butler County Educational Services Center, Miami University/Middletown College Pledge, Valley Central Bank, SoulCraft & SoulCraft Creative Consulting, Akers Packaging, City of Middletown, Premier Health Atrium Medical Center, First Financial Bank, Hightowers Petroleum Co., United Way of Greater Cincinnati — Middletown, U.S. Army and Shared Harvest Foodbank.
A month prior to the first session, Daniels and the program director started having weekly workshops covering various topics with the students to properly prepare them for the mentors. One session focused on doing a 30-second commercial on how to market yourself and your goals, and another workshop was all about professional dress. The students also made their own business cards including the student’s name, expected graduation date and the type of careers they wanted to go in to. The business cards were a hit for both the students and the mentors.
“I thought it was very beneficial because I actually had two people who contacted me afterwards to help me with my physical therapy career that I want to go into,” said Howard. “All of the mentors were very easy to talk to, and I would definitely recommend doing this again next year.”
When it was all said and done, the first session of the Middletown High School Future Center was a great success. Daniels received excellent feedback from both the students and the mentors. The second Speed Mentoring session is on April 21 and a group of approximately 60 different students will participate.
"As we’re providing programming for our juniors and seniors and preparing for the next step, you always want to be sure you’re preparing programming that is beneficial to them, and after the event, several students walked out and started telling other students about it,” said Daniels. They ran into the principal after they just came from the event and were speaking so excitedly about it. We had people here that were game changers who could offer opportunities to our students. It was a win-win for all!”