At the halfway point of the program year, we regrouped and recharged at Mentor Midyear Training! We celebrated mentors’ hard work and their mentees’ accomplishments, while forging a path through the rest of the program year. We were joined by two experts in the field: Andrea Plasko, who led a section on Wellness Strategies & Best Practices, and Sheena Daree Miller who led a Diversity & Sensitivity Training.
Part 1: Wellness Strategies & Best Practices with Andrea Plasko
Andrea Plasko is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). She works in the south Bronx in a charter high school, has a private practice through BetterHelp and Talkspace, and is a Girls Write Now Wellness Advisor. Andrea previously worked in outpatient mental health clinics at elementary and middle schools on issues ranging from anxiety, stress, depression, bullying, rejection, eating disorders, self-harming, sexual trauma, and suicidal ideation.
- Teen developmental norms.
- Common stressors for teens and the unique stressors of this particular generation (COVID-19, political climate, and more).
- When to be concerned by a mentee’s behavior and what steps they should take.
- How to support their mentees through their own verbal responses and through outside help, such as the Girl’s Write Now Teen and Life Resources page.
Part 2: Diversity & Sensitivity Training with Sheena Daree Miller
Sheena Daree Miller is a Master of Fine Arts candidate in Creative Nonfiction at The New School; her work has appeared in Ms. Magazine, The Rumpus, and Zone 3 Press. In her faculty development role at The New School, she facilitates workshops and develops resources to support both new and returning instructors in teaching equity and inclusion. She also oversees Brooklyn Public Library’s Black Heritage Center, housed at the Macon branch.
- To “Start with the Self”, by reflecting on the ways in which bias, assumptions, and positionality have functioned in their personal lives and relationships.
- Key terms for understanding social identities including, but not limited to, intersectionality, microaggressions, and sexuality and gender identities.
- How to put equity and inclusion into action through the daily practice of paying attention, consulting external resources, and extending grace.
- The steps to responding to microagressions, courtesy of Derald Wing Sue.
- How to respond when you’ve made a mistake or error regarding someone’s social identity.
To conclude, Mentors wrote down at least 1 point from Sheena’s session they will commit to learning more about and/or how they will integrate what they learned into their mentor role. The mentors were then invited to join Girls Write Now in phase 2 of the Racial Justice Strategic Planning Process by joining the Diversity Committee and continuing diversity training sponsored by Girls Write Now throughout February.
Part 3: Mentor Chat Rooms
- Takeaways from the day: Wellness Strategies and Best Practices/Diversity and Sensitivity Training
- Challenges with their pair relationship and shared best practices
- Advice from Returning Mentors to New Mentors
- Writing prompts and innovative ways to spend virtual weekly pair sessions
- “I LOVED the chat room! [My favorite part was] connecting with other mentors and hearing about their relationship dynamics. And discussing how to handle conversations about current events!”
- “This [Diversity & Sensitivity Training] is more comprehensive of an overview at a really high level of these issues than I have received elsewhere. Thank you!”
- “Big thanks to the amazing group in my breakout room, and our great expert speakers today!”
- “Inspiring mentors in our room. So grateful for the insight from veteran mentors.”
- “So helpful as a first-year mentor to hear from people who have mentored for longer.”
- “Best Mentor Midyear yet!”