Journalism Education Association Mentor Program
Frequently Asked Questions – Funding & Operation
Q. What is the funding for the JEA Mentor Program?
A. The largest part of the funding is from JEA, which has committed to funding the program through 2013. The JEA funding pays for the training of the mentors – a Mentor Forum held each summer – and for some mentor scholarships. The next largest funder is Yellow Chair Foundation, which provides funds for The Mentor Academies. Once a year, each mentor is required to attend a Mentor Academy, held in conjunction with the JEA/NSPA convention. Mentors discuss their work, learn new strategies and skills, and participate in convention activities. Yellow Chair also provides funds for mentor stipends. The next level of support is from the Newspaper Association of America Foundation and numerous state-level funders that provide stipends for mentors. NAAF’s stipends are allocated for mentors who are working with advisers of color or new teachers who are teaching in minority majority schools.
Q. What is the rationale for the $2,500 per year stipend for each mentor?
A. In setting up the JEA Mentor Program, we studied other mentoring programs for new teachers. Most of those are conducted as part of required new teacher induction with the mentors being paid school district employees. We know the main motivation for the mentors in the JEA program is the desire to help new journalism teachers, not the stipend. The stipend provides the money to cover mileage, making copies or purchasing teaching materials. Some mentors have used the money to take their mentees out for dinner. Any money left over is the mentor’s modest payment for the time invested. Our outside funders said that compensating the mentors and tying that compensation to the completion of certain requirements (such as completing monthly reports) helps promote accountability. Many of the mentors have reported that they consider their mentoring more of a professional commitment because they receive a stipend and that their family and friends also have been more supportive because they are being paid and not just volunteering their time.
Q. The program application states we must “maintain funding through one or more funders with a stipend of $2,500 a year per mentor for the two-year minimum commitment to this program.” Does that mean we will be in the program for only two years?
A. No. In fact, we hope that your state will remain part of the program as long as it exists. The two-year minimum provides a window of financial planning so funding is in place as you start up. You then have two years to find continued funding for the following year(s). Securing in-state funding is a continual process.
Q. The original commitment for mentors is two years. Can someone become a mentor for just one year?
A. No. Mentors make a two-year commitment to their mentees, so we want them to stay in the program for a minimum of two years. Additionally, their original training and on-going professional development is a financial investment by the Journalism Education Association. We want our mentors to stay with the program as long as possible. In addition, veteran mentors provide an excellent experience for their mentees and enrich the program as a whole.
Q. Can a mentor remain in the program for more than two years?
A. Yes. In fact, we hope most mentors will want to continue beyond the initial two-year term. Their continuance in the program helps provide a stronger network of new-teacher support in the state.
Q. How many mentees does each mentor actually work with?
A. In the first year, we ask mentors to have two mentees with a two-year commitment. Sometimes a mentor will take on a third or even a fourth, depending on the time available. In the second year, we ask mentors to take on two more new mentees with a two-year commitment. That means in the mentor’s second year, the mentor will work with four (or more) mentees. By adding two and dropping two each year, mentors will ideally have four mentees.
Q. What happens to the mentees at the end of the two-year commitment?
A. We give the mentors the option of extending their mentoring relationship in a more informal way for an additional year. Not all mentees need or want this. But the mentor will cease formal mentoring but yet maintain a relationship as a resource. The JEA Mentor Program will continue to keep in contact yearly with “graduated” mentees as a follow-up as we evaluate the long-term effectiveness of the Mentor Program.
Q. What happens to the mentees when the mentor leaves the Mentor Program?
A. We ask mentors to give us a one-year notice when they plan to leave the program. In their final year of mentoring, we ask them not to take on new mentees but to just finish up the two-year commitment with their new mentees from the previous year.
Q. What if a mentor has a sudden illness or emergency and cannot give a one-year notice?
A. These things can happen. The principal agreement states, “There may be circumstances [when] an assigned mentor may not be able to complete his or her assigned mentoring role. … [E]very effort will be made to arrange for an alternate mentor at least by the following school year.” We will contact other mentors who are geographically close to continue the mentoring for the retiring mentor’s mentees.
Q. How will we know what progress is being made with the mentees in our state?
A. Your mentors are the best source of information specific to mentees from your state. Stay in contact with them. Ask them questions. Invite them to a board meeting to share their experiences and their mentees’ challenges and achievements. On a broader level, the JEA Mentor Program publishes a report in November and April to coincide with the JEA/NSPA conventions. The Mentor Matters report is available for download at www.jea.org. Hard copies of the report are available at the Saturday morning SPA Roundtable at the conventions. We can also mail you copies if you’d like them for your board meeting. Email Linda Barrington at email@example.com with your request. In addition, the Mentor Program has its own website: www.jeamentoring.org. Here you will find regular postings about mentoring and the program that will give you a sense of the work of the program and support we provide for mentors and mentees.
Q. Our state has funding for our two-year commitment, but what if, at some point down the road, we cannot find continued funding?
A. The JEA Mentor Program has set up a Stipend Scholarship Fund, not only to support the stipends for mentors in new states who are joining the program but also for existing mentors in states that are having difficulty sustaining their funding. As soon as a state realizes that its funding will likely end or diminish, the state applicant should apply for a stipend scholarship for the coming year.
Q. How much will a stipend scholarship provide and for what period of time?
A. Stipend scholarships vary depending on the amount of in-state funding available. The scholarship could be as little as $500 or as much as $2,000. The scholarship is guaranteed for a minimum of two years. Extension of the scholarship depends of the amount of money available in the Stipend Scholarship Fund.
Q. The Mentor Program application states that we agree “to provide as much assistance as possible, financial and otherwise, to the mentees in [our] state.” What kind of support does that mean?
A. It is important to mentees to belong to the professional community of journalism teachers in your state. Starting out as a publication teacher/adviser can be a challenging experience, professionally, emotionally and financially. We hope that your state scholastic press association (SPA) would provide incentives for new teachers to become active in your organization by providing any or all of the following for the JEA mentees for their first two years: waiver of membership fees; waiver or reduction of fees for SPA workshops, conferences, and other events; welcome and recognition at SPA events; and waiver or reduction of fees for publication critiques or competitions.