Education and Community: The collective wisdom
of teachers, parents, and members of our community.

TELEMENTORING

Both the quantitative and qualitative data appeared to send a strong message affirming the quality and utility of the HP E-mail Mentor Program. When it functioned well and even when it functioned only marginally well, the participants could clearly see its value, they liked it, and they could easily see its potential. Even when it did not function well, particularly for mentors and teacher contacts, there was a consensus of opinion about its great potential as an option in a school to enhance learning opportunities for students of all types and ages. Substantive, national scope innovations like the E-Mail Mentor Program routinely take years to develop, refine, and structure into their best operational form. This program is hitting its stride and deserves continuation and study. It has wonderful potential and its place as an important element of public schools in the future appears certain. (Neils, 1998a)

This tells us it is a positive and potentially powerful educational tool. In all accounts we do not see a negative aspect except for the lack of "stick-to-itness." Even lack of infrastructure was overcome. From the HP side, the weakest link was in the classroom, where teachers did not push this strongly enough.

In speaking with David Neils by telephone, I explained as a teacher one of the major stumbling blocks was keeping the telementors involved. After chuckling, we agreed that sustaining the program on all levels was the most difficult and we came to the conclusion that whoever was running the telementor program the other side was a weak link because the implementor had little effect on the other participant. We agreed to join forces to see if our hypothesis was correct. If we are both involved and have some sort of control over the mentor or mentee, then the shortcomings expressed by mentors at HP and by mentees at my school should disappear.

The significance of the corporate telementoring program is important. As part of the national agenda, the corporate side has been receiving much of the benefits as schools become more conscious about preparing its charges with skills to work and to purchase. It seems fitting that the corporate world be involved. HP has begun to advise other corporations on its telementoring program. This could be a great boon for education.