Whether this is your first year implementing a Check & Connect program or you’re a seasoned veteran of Check & Connect program implementation, the fall provides an opportunity to jump-start your program with a strong, cohesive mentoring team. In each implementation of Check & Connect, the team works together on the goals of student engagement and academic success. Leading the team is the Check & Connect coordinator.
Not all Check & Connect implementations will have the resources to have a separate, paid coordinator; however, in all Check & Connect programs a leader should be identified. The Check & Connect coordinator typically will be someone who is anchored at the school administrative level, such as a social worker, psychologist, or guidance counselor.
When Check & Connect is implemented through a community based organization, the coordinator may be an employee of the organization and work closely with an administrative contact in the school. The main functions of the coordinator are to provide support to Check & Connect mentors and supervise Check & Connect activities.
Primary tasks of the coordinator include:
- recruit/hire mentors,
- coordinate student referrals and assign students to mentors,
- integrate Check & Connect into existing school and district practices, ensuring that students are appropriately identified and that mentors have access to necessary student data,
- facilitate regular Check & Connect team meetings,
- visit mentors at each site to provide individual support,
- arrange ongoing Check & Connect staff (mentor) development,
- provide for training and support for new/replacement mentors,
- monitor student mobility and support transitions for students moving to a new school, and
- coordinate data collection to evaluate program impact, and
- monitor program fidelity (see The Check & Connect Project Coordinator’s Role in Fidelity of Implementation).
Check & Connect Coordinators’ Community of Practice
To support Check & Connect site coordinators in understanding their role and ensuring fidelity of implementation at their site, we host the Check & Connect Coordinators’ Community of Practice, a free professional development network available to current Check & Connect site coordinators. Local, regional, and state Check & Connect coordinators are invited to join the staff at the University of Minnesota via bimonthly conference calls during the school year to discuss a particular topic, ask questions, and problem-solve together. Past topics for these calls have included; Organizational Support for Mentors, Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Check & Connect Mentors, and Strategies for Fidelity of Implementation. Members are encouraged to suggest topics or utilize the email list to generate discussion or ask questions of other coordinators between calls.
We’ve scheduled our 2014-15 Coordinators’ Community of Practice Conference Calls and our first call of the year will take place on October 7th on the topic of Supporting Check & Connect Mentors. Co-facilitating this call with me will be Jaime David, Check & Connect Coordinator/English Teacher from Tenoroc High School in Lakeland, Florida. Tenoroc uses existing school staff as Check & Connect mentors and has had strong support from school administrators for the implementation of the Check & Connect program. Jaime will share her experiences in supporting Check & Connect mentors, the vital importance of administrative support, and the structure of the Check & Connect program at Tenoroc.
If you are a current Check & Connect site coordinator, I encourage you to join this free professional development network! Sign up to join the Coordinators’ Community of Practice and you will receive an email notice with the future dates, times, and topics, as well as instructions for how to participate.
About the Author: Sharon Mulé is a project coordinator and member of the Check & Connect training team at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota. She also serves as the primary facilitator of the Check & Connect Coordinators’ Community of Practice.
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