“We love mentoring,” City Connects Coordinator Will Osier of Boston’s Josiah Quincy School says.
That’s why every week on Wednesdays, 20 girls from the Quincy School in grades eight through 11 go into the heart of downtown Boston and meet with mentors at the online furniture and home goods company Wayfair.
City Connects works in the Quincy Upper school serving students in grades 6-12. In the upper grades, the City Connects model helps older children dream big. And just as they do in elementary schools, Osier and other coordinators working with older students provide individualized services and opportunities that meet students’ strengths and address their needs. Coordinators engage students in designing personalized plans and connect them to resources, relationships, and opportunities that can boost their college and career aspirations.
The Wayfair mentorship program is one good example. It was launched last month by one of the Quincy School’s community partners, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.
The girls who participate are “coming here having one on one time with their match and also doing a variety of group activities,” Christine Berardino, Big Sisters’ Associate Director of Site-Based Mentoring, told WBZ Television.
Big Sister Exodia Demosthene, a Wayfair software engineer, tells WBZ that what she wants for her Little Sister Myra is: “If she’s dreaming big right now, dreaming even bigger.”
Osier adds that students will meet with their mentors for the next year-and-a-half and have their mentor’s undivided attention, insights, and encouragement.
“The kids need social interaction,” Osier says. “They need to meet interesting adults. And we need to get them outside school so they can learn more about what kind of jobs are available. We can’t teach that in the classroom. The kids have to see it. Then they can say, ‘Okay, now that I know what this looks like, this could be something I could see myself doing.’ ”
“They’re also learning to take a bit of a risk by going to a new place and meeting adults they don’t know.”
This one-on-one contact can be particularly useful for the students who don’t like to talk on the telephone or who don’t yet have interview skills.
The mentorship program is one exciting part of what City Connects hopes to accomplish for students: opportunities that help them thrive in school and that expand their future horizons.