FYI Partnering with School of Innovation in Springfield
FYI firmly believes in the power of partnership. They often lead to more partnerships, allowing FYI to serve a wider range of students and families than we ever could alone. A great example of that is the new expansion of our Mentoring Program into Springfield’s School Of Innovation (SOI).
SOI is Springfield City Schools’ project-based learning center that utilizes a hands-on experiential education model to provide and hone vital training in a non-traditional setting.
Its website further explains that SOI “prepares students to gain the valuable skill of solving problems, while effectively participating as responsible citizens.”
FYI was introduced to the SOI by Joe Hunter, Director of the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center. FYI met Hunter when starting a Mentoring Program initiative at the JDC nearly two years ago, that has continued despite the pandemic.
“He understands how important our program is and how far we have come in helping reduce the recidivism rate of juvenile offenders,” said Mentoring Program Co-Director Bryan Moore. “Many of the released juvenile offenders attend the SOI, and this connection provided an opportunity for the Mentoring Program to follow up with those released offenders we had been working with.”
Continued follow-up opportunities is just one advantage of FYI’s new SOI presence. Andrea Whitacre, a guidance counselor at SOI who has been working with the Mentoring Program, has already seen impact during our initial weeks there.
“The kids who are meeting with them are excited that they have someone interested in them as individuals,” she said. “Probably all of them could use mentors. It looks like the approach that they are taking and the program are working. You have to build the relationship, and that’s sometimes where it’s hard.”
She pointed out the reception of the recent introduction of the PATH curriculum that the Mentoring Program has used for years in other county schools. Moore agrees there’s been a good start, but cautioned that there is a lot more work to do.
“We are still in the early stages of planting the seed at the School of Innovation, working on logistics, preparing lessons, and working on getting a summer program started,” he said. “If we are able to provide a summer program, we can influence those mentees in a positive way by keeping them from at-risk behaviors during the summer, when they are more than likely to be involved in negative activities that contribute to being incarcerated.”
Our program is still trying to identify which mentees will be consistent with twice-a-week sessions. We’ve met with up to 12 mentees over the last two months, however only 4-5 of them are consistently coming to sessions every week, according to Moore. One of the next steps is to figure out how to incentivize attendance and participation.
“We are not clear on the curriculums or the flow of how classrooms work,” Moore said. “SOI is very laid back compared to other public schools.”
Once more committed relationships with the mentees are established, the Mentoring Program’s impact will grow. That growth has already started.
“Relationships are building,” said Moore. “The consistent mentees are excited about the opportunities to find better ways to make positive decisions, learn who they are, where they can go, and how they can get there. They are learning to put trust in us when they rarely have any one person in their life they can trust. Baby steps!”
Whitacre sees a bright future for the Mentoring Program not only in the SOI, but elsewhere.
“I hope to get more kids involved,” she said. “Not every kid can play sports or have the means to do things after school. To have someone who is easily accessible in the school environment is a big plus.
“This would be good for all the schools to have, not necessarily just us,” she added. “Even for schools that don’t have a lot of students who are economically disadvantaged and battle significant trauma.”
To find out more about the program or how you can get involved, call FYI at (937) 845-0403 or visit www.fyiohio.org.