Q: Tell the Burn Army a little bit about Elevate Oregon.
A: Elevate Oregon is a support program aimed at building relationships with our youth to promote education, self-reliance, and leadership. We do this is both in class and out of class. In class, each Teacher/Mentor (TM) has a period where we get the opportunity to become actual teachers to our youth. Our lessons are focused on our 13 Character Qualities and Life Skills. Outside of class, we focus on the mentoring part by having one-on-ones, field trips, tutoring sessions, gender-based activities, and Little Lift to name a few. Each of these programs helps us build and strengthen relationships with our youth, enabling us to effectively influence them.
Q: Can you describe your role as a mentor at Elevate Oregon? What does your day-to-day look like?
A: Our role as a Teacher/Mentor (TM) is to support, advocate, and assist in the success of our youth. In a normal day, we usually start by teaching. Any time before or after class, we check in with kids in the program. When kids are having a hard time in class and they need a break or an adult they trust to talk to, we're usually their go-to person. We also assist administration with anything they may need help with including; assemblies, meetings, interventions, and conferences.
Q: October is National Bullying Prevention Month and BurnCycle has dedicated the month to encouraging our community (and beyond) to sign a BurnCycle Against Bullying pledge and take a stand against bullying. As a mentor for Elevate Oregon, what is your experience with bullying and how does this affect the general population of students you teach?
A: Unfortunately, bullying is a pressing issue in high schools and Parkrose is no exception. Our experience with this has been both positive and a negative. We are impressed by the level of awareness and concern for the issue among our students. Our students have been actively engaged and participate in spreading awareness and finding healthy solutions. On the other hand, there have been instances in our classrooms and among our students where bullying have taken place. Because of the strong relationships we have with our students, we are able to take more of a proper approach to the issue. Our relationships make it easier for us to find the underlying cause and effective solutions.
Q: What are some ways in which Elevate Oregon works towards combatting and striking out bullying?
A: We combat bullying using our Character Qualities and Life Skills to directly discuss the subject. These qualities include: Respect, Integrity, Caring, Responsibility, Decision Making and Courage. We build our lesson plans off of these Character Qualities and Life Skills, which allows us to speak about issues like bullying and how to handle them. Outside of the classroom, we are constantly preaching healthy resolutions. Sometimes issues like these are inevitable but our job as TM's is to guide our youth using these tools in finding healthy solutions.
Q: What are some ways that others can get involved in supporting Elevate Oregon?
A: Elevate Oregon welcomes involvement from the community! Whether it is someone coming out to a class to talk about their experiences or profession or hosting a site visit or job shadow opportunity, it is tremendously beneficial for our students to see what is beyond high school.
Q: Anything else you want people to know about Elevate Oregon?
A: Elevate Oregon was founded in 2010 as a principled, community response to identified inequities and disparities in access, opportunities, and outcomes for vulnerable youth, both in school and during out-of-school times. Elevate launched programming in the Parkrose School District (PSD), one of the least networked and under-resourced school districts in Oregon. Last year, we worked with almost 600 young people in grades 4th through 12th.
Elevate Oregon builds relationships with youth to promote education, self-reliance, and leadership. Through culturally responsive, long-term, relational support, we empower young people to become leaders and productive citizens. Mentoring relationships are at the heart of our school-based efforts to build character qualities and life skills.
To achieve our mission, our goals are to:
• Work with students enrolled in Elevate Oregon to define, and pursue, success in a way that is personally meaningful to them
• Empower young people
• Help students develop supportive peer networks
• Offer leadership opportunities to hone skills built in, and out of, the classroom