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Frequently Asked Questions for Mentors


About how much time is this going to take?

Mentoring takes an hour a week during periods when a student is assigned, as well as occasional e-mail or phone conversations to schedule meetings.

I need a break. Will you be mad at me? Can I come back later?

We encourage our volunteers to take time away from the program when they feel they need to. Working with a student on a personal level can be draining and it is sometimes important not to jump too quickly into the next experience. Please don't be afraid to tell us you need some time off. We'll gladly reactivate you whenever you feel ready.

I have a colleague who would be great for this. How can I get them involved?

First, tell them all about the wonderful experience you have had volunteering for the program. Word-of-mouth is an excellent motivator. Then, have them contact the Assistant Director for Civic Education, Ashley Stovall, at stovalak@jmu.edu.  You can also provide Ashley with their contact information or refer them to our website for more information. 

I'm a mentor and am thinking about becoming a site supervisor but am not sure how this will work in my area. Can you help?

Absolutely! We have lots of volunteers who serve in both roles. It is important that the Site Experience is mutually beneficial for the student and the site. We also recognize that every site is different and look forward to working with you to create a vision for our collaboration. The Site Supervisor Training session (the only additional session necessary if you are already a mentor) is designed to help you process how the experience will work in your area. Refer to the Volunteer Training page for more information on upcoming training sessions.

If you want to explore this more prior to attending training, or you think your entire staff would benefit from having the conversation together, we are happy to come to your office and lead the discussion. Contact Ashley Stovall at stovalak@jmu.edu if you'd like to schedule a meeting.

I love volunteering for the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices and am looking for even more ways to get involved.

Many of our mentors and site supervisors also serve on the Accountability Board. This is an excellent opportunity to experience the other side of the accountability process. For more information about how to become involved, follow the link above or contact Wendy Lushbaugh at lushbawy@jmu.edu.

I need help! Who should I call?

Your Civic Learning Coordinator (the person who e-mailed you assigning you a student) is your number one contact. Recognize, however, that some of the coordinators are students who don't work every day. If you need an immediate response and you can't reach your coordinator, you can contact the office at 540-568-6218 and ask to speak to someone about Civic Learning.

In addition, consider using each other as a resource. There are several networking opportunities throughout the year as well as the volunteer listserv. Contact the Assistant Director for Civic Education, Ashley Stovall, at stovalak@jmu.edu for more information.

My student hasn't responded to my e-mails.

There are a number of things you can do to jump-start communication:

  1. Make sure you have discussed with your student the most effective form of you communication you are both willing to use and that you both understand the expectation for how often this form of communication must be checked.
  2. Keep your coordinator informed of any issues or concerns, even they seem minor. Your coordinator will work with you to determine the best course of action. If they are only made aware of an issue after it has already progressed, it may be more difficult for them to resolve.
  3. Be very clear in your communication to the student. Provide clear deadlines and clear consequences. For example:

"As I have not heard from you in over a week, I must request that you contact me to schedule a meeting. If we are unable to connect up and meet this week, I will have to turn your case back over to the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices. I am available this week every afternoon from 2 - 5 and also Thursday morning from 9 - noon. The best way for you to schedule is to call the front desk at my office and ask to be put on my schedule. Please call before noon tomorrow as my schedule may fill up after that. I really enjoyed our last meeting and hope everything is okay with you."

My student isn't showing up for meetings.

Be sure that you are documenting any missed meetings or meetings that the student showed up to late. Share this information with your coordinator. If the student is late to a meeting, be sure to have a conversation with them. Explain the impact on you or others when the student is late. If the meeting is missed altogether, it is important to help the student understand how this has impacted you.

If this is a situation that you or your office cannot continue to tolerate, explain that to the student so that they understand the consequences for any future incidents. If you feel that you can no longer accommodate a student because of their absences, please let your coordinator know.

However, it is important to remember that the student may have been placed in the program as a way to increase their motivation or time management skills. Refer to your training binder and the Resources section of this web site regarding some ways to build trust and work on time management skills.

I haven't heard back from my coordinator.

Many of our coordinators are students who do not work every day. If you need an immediate response and you can't reach your coordinator, you can contact the office at 540-568-6218 and ask to speak to someone about Civic Learning.

Questions?

Did you have a question that we didn't answer? Contact Assistant Director for Civic Education, Ashley Stovall, at stovalak@jmu.edu. We'd be happy to help you!

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