Leadership and Mentoring

Instructor Name: 
Joseph Wightman
Course Description: 

Leadership Through Mentoring in K-5 Schools - The mentoring of young people takes many forms. Some young people grow up with a sibling, relative or another adult ally who serves as a mentor to them. Some benefit from formal mentoring programs in schools or from community organizations. Not everyone enjoys access to regular mentoring, yet research shows that mentoring has tremendous benefits for both the mentor and the mentee. These benefits 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 Scott Elementary Schools, 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 (either in a regular classroom or in the SUN after school program) 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.

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 post-industrial leadership model and associated theories, and within themselves, 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

Brief Course Overview: 

Note: There are no course materials to buy. All content will be available through our online course shell in Canvas. All written work will be submitted through Canvas.

Summer Term:

Summer Term is a little different. We will work exclusively with SUN Schools programs offered at Rigler and Scott. The SUN programs are partnered with Latino Network, which focuses on providing services to underserved populations including children and their parents.

Summer Term is only 8 weeks; the service commitment 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. Summer SUN School itself is only four weeks long. It usually starts in week three, and each Capstone Mentor will commit to one or two full days each week to support the programs.

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 service projects.

Attendance and participation: Class attendance and participation are required components of the class. Preparation includes reviewing Canvas content early in the week, completing readings on time, having discussion points for class, active participation in class activities, supporting peers’ learning, and leading discussions. 

Weekly reading responses: There will be no tests or quizzes in this class. Each week, students will be provided a variety of prompts to help them reflect on course materials, service experiences, and collaborations with peers.

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

Final Reflection: Students will be asked to reflect on one of the University studies goals, bringing together the service experience, the in-class conversations, and the materials they consumed as part of their study during the term. Prompts will be provided as a guide for meaningful reflection.