Inspire Santa Fe turns three!

This fall, Santa Fe’s unique interest-based mentorship program is continuing to support and elevate the natural love of learning by connecting adults and children in mentorships. Working closely with a wide range of area schools, the non-profit Communities in Schools, and participating families, we’ve already set up about two-thirds of our sixty mentorships for the 2016-2017 program year. The young people and mentors are alive with learning as they explore creative writing, guitar, community organizing, immigration law, photography, culinary arts, German language and much more.

Held in partnership between the Academy for the Love of Learning and the Community Development Corporation Siete del Norte, Inspire is far more than an after-school activity for kids. It’s a comprehensive program that cuts across generations, bridges cultural and economic divides, and brings the community together around learning. Young people find the opportunity to explore something they’ve longed to learn, and adults find a chance to share their expertise and interest with the next generation.

The Academy has invested deeply in this program as part of its Institute for Teaching, which seeks to enliven the art of teaching in and out of schools. We believe that sharing knowledge and expertise is an essential part of the human experience, and adults who are denied this opportunity may feel something missing in their own development. We also believe that mentoring is greatly enriched when mentors take the time to reflect on their own teaching, connect to other mentors, and experiment with their approaches. For this reason, we require our mentors to attend at least one learning workshop themselves, so that they can be mindful and effective in their mentoring; and we also bring all our mentorships together for a public showcase in the spring.

For adults who sign up for Inspire, then, the commitment is much more than a way to give back to the community—it is also a way to grow themselves as teachers and human beings.

To coordinate the mentor learning elements of Inspire in 2015-2016, we’ve brought onboard Kira Jones, a lifelong educator who has years of experiencing working with mentorship programs across the nation. As our Mentorship Learning Facilitator, Kira has begun working with Academy depth facilitators to design workshops for the mentors. She’s also reaching out directly to mentors, one-on-one, to help them reflect on the meaning of their mentorships, and find ways to stay enlivened and engaged in their teaching.

Follow Inspire Santa Fe this year by checking this blog occasionally, to read reports from me and Kira about how the program is impacting mentors and protégés. We can’t wait to share the learning!