Learning through Experience

January 30, 2015

Since 2002, January is recognized as National Mentoring Month. Mentors help children build confidence, gain knowledge, and develop the strength of character to succeed inside and outside of the classroom. In President Obama’s proclamation for National Mentoring Month, he says “young people with mentors have better attendance in school, higher self-esteem, a greater chance of pursuing higher education, and a reduced risk of substance abuse.”

As part of our mission at BCWH, to create collaborative place-making experiences that enrich and inspire, several of our staff take on mentoring roles in their own time for different organizations. Anca Lipan and Kelley White began the year volunteering as mentors for the ACE (Architecture Construction Engineering) program. For 15 weeks, Anca and Kelley will work with a class of over 30 students at Highland Springs High School. The course teaches students about various disciplines related to the architecture and construction industry with the goal of better preparing students for careers choices. In preparation for a restaurant design project, this weeks session included a guided kitchen tour by Chef Jill Garloff as well as a lesson in meal assembly and serving in order for the students to experience the flow of kitchen activities.

For the past two years, Gwen Davis has volunteered as a mentor through Communities in Schools Richmond at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. BCWH Principals, Rob Comet and Charles Piper, who serves as CIS Board Members for Richmond and Chesterfield, introduced Gwen to the program and now she meets with a sixth grade girl once a week. Having a middle schooler of her own, Gwen knows first-hand many of the challenges students that age face and she finds it important to be a source of encouragement and consistency to the young women she mentors.

Several other BCWH employees also mentor local students through the Greater Virginia Green Building Council and the James River Green Building Council, Connect the Dots Program.  This initiative challenges schools across Virginia to develop or expand on a green school project or program. Schools are paired with volunteer mentors to bridge the connection with local and national environmental resources. This year, Bo, Allie, Anca, Kelley, Allison, Erin and Chris helped four schools complete sustainability projects.