Dr. Susan G. Weinberger, also known as Dr. Mentor, president of the Mentor Consulting Group in Norwalk, Conn., jots notes in a spiral notebook while moving from table to table watching the Immersion Mentoring program at Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi Sykes Unit as it’s in full swing. Pausing to visit and ask questions of both mentors and mentees, the children are engrossed in an activity called Layers of History.
As they learn about the stages of volcanic eruptions, Dr. Weinberger learns more about the program she helped design. “I designed the mentoring portion of the Immersion Mentoring program as we know it today, and I’m here to see how the program is being carried out,” explains Dr. Weinberger. “I’m going to ask the staff what challenges they’ve have and what successes there have been, and if they got the chance to get more funding to redesign the program, how would they do it differently.”
After the tour, I’m going to talk to staff to really flush out with them to see if the design that’s on paper really works in terms of practice. What we hoped for and what is actually happening may not be quite the same thing. We may need to tweak it a little bit.
I’m really thrilled to be here.”
To the children, Dr. Weinberger is just someone interested in what their doing. They answer her questions politely, then get to work. Using food products with different textures, from crushed rice crispy cereal to Grape-Nuts and mini chocolate chips, they pour material in a specific order, into clear drinking bottles to simulate the stages of volcanic eruptions. Layers of “rock, ash and other materials” appear before the children’s eyes. A small wad of paper simulating a house, placed in the bottle near the first layer, was soon covered under the layers of “volcanic material.” Mentors ask how they would feel if that was their house. Would they like to go back to it? The children respond with an emphatic, “No!”
The kids understand. “They get it,” Dr. Weinberger says.
After the lesson was over, the layers of history became a great-tasting granola. What a treat!