Leadership and Mentoring

Instructor Name: 
Joseph Wightman
Course Description: 

Leadership Through Mentoring in K-8 Schools - The mentoring of young people takes many forms. Some young people are fortunate to grow up with a caring parent, relative or adult ally who serves as a mentor to them. Other young people do not enjoy the benefits of a strong mentor in their lives.  Research shows that mentoring results in a myriad benefits for both the mentor and the mentee. For all involved, these include the development of leadership skills, increased interpersonal communication, improved relationship-building skills, and increased self-awareness. Armed with these skills, a young person has greater potential for success in many settings.

This course explores education as a key influence on an individual’s social and economic future and provides opportunities to contribute to the educational process in a leadership capacity. Through course material, Capstone students are exposed to leadership development, theory, and skills. During service activities like tutoring and mentoring at Rigler Elementary and Sabin K-8, PSU students will be challenged to use and develop communication, relationship-building, and leadership skills. Each student will mentor or tutor at one school throughout the term and, using those experiences as a foundation for discussion and reflection in class, will explore educational capital, social responsibility, and leadership. A current PPS background check is required for this class.

Summer Term:
Summer Term is a little different. We will work exclusively with Rigler Elementary and their SUN Schools program. Captsone students will participate in summer programming through SUN Schools' Panther Camp. The SUN program at Rigler is partnered with Latino Network, which focuses on providing services to underserved populations including children and their parents.

Rigler is committed to being a partner for equitable community development and to providing meaningful service to all members of the neighborhood. Students in Summer Term will be exposed to a diversity of voices from within the Cully community, both from visiting speakers and through literature provided by local leaders.

Summer Term is only 8 weeks; the service committment is fairly intensive. Our in-class experience will be every Friday for 3 1/2 hours, for the entire term. Classes will meet at Rigler Elementary. Panther Camp itself is only four weeks long. Panther Camp will start in week three, and each Capstone Student will choose one day (M-R) to spend the afternoon supporting the kids in the program.

By the end of the term, Capstone students will:

  • Understand the importance of educational equity and educational capital in society
  • Develop an understanding of the Social Change Model of Leadership Development and the leadership potential to become more civically engaged
  • Develop their own responsible working theory of leadership and be empowered to participate in social change
  • Have an understanding of leadership as applied in the public school environment
  • Recognize linkages between leadership theory and practice through experience in tutoring and mentoring public school students
Project Description: 

The format of class sessions is based on the understanding that students actively construct their own learning. Class sessions will emphasize active and collaborative learning, including discussions focused largely on assigned readings, student experiences at the community partner site, interactive lecture, and in-class projects.

Attendance and participation: Class attendance and participation are a required component of the class. Preparation includes completing readings on time, having discussion points for class, active participation in class activities and peer grading exercise, and leading discussions. 

Reflective essays: A series of reflective essays will be utilized to synthesize the various course components.

Community service activities:  Informed community work comprises this portion of the grade.  Students spend approximately 3-5 hours per week (~20 hrs/term) engaged in tutoring and mentoring at Sabin K-8 or Rigler Elementary. A log of time at the site will be submitted at the end of the term and students will deliver an oral in-class reflection on their time at the school. Students will also co-create and develop small-group projects as resources for the school.

In-class final reflection: Students will be asked to respond to a series of questions on the content covered in the class over the course of the term. Notes and materials may be utilized during this writing exercise, which is to reflect on the integration of the Universities Studies goal areas (communication, diversity of human experience, critical thinking, and ethics and social responsibility) in the course and work with the community partner.