New YES! Mentorship Program

At the 2015 NSN YES! Pre-Conference, the membership asked for a mentorship program where members could work with more experienced tellers on developing their youth programs. “I realized that someone would need to step forward to help the YES! Board to create such a program and I saw this as an opportunity where I could give back to the national organization,” stated Joanna Demarest, the new Mentorship Program Coordinator. “I used the PRO SIG’s format, as they had already developed a mentorship program which I had found useful when I needed help running a festival in Pittsburgh. By adapting the PRO SIG program, I was able to create a new mentorship program for the YES! SIG which we premiered at the 2016 Pre-Conference in July.”

The program focuses on helping those individuals working with children in a variety of settings: classrooms, assemblies, afterschool programs, libraries – anywhere where children have an opportunity to hear the spoken word. The YES! SIG now has an outstanding roster of tellers, who work with children, that have volunteered their time to be mentors to help others create or re-imagine exciting, engaging and impactful programs for youth.

When asked about being part of this new initiative, Donna Washington stated, “When I was a young storyteller, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing performers who took the time to help me when I was confused, lost, worried, or uncertain. I always try to pay that forward when I can. This initiative is a good way for seasoned tellers to help each other and budding performers as we navigate through this art form.” Washington continued, “Having a program where we explore what it means to be part of this art form is important. Learning basic skills is important. Understanding the power of this form, and how and why it moves people is important. If we, as the senior members of this art form do not do it, then it will never be done.”

The YES! Mentorship program is set up so that YES! Members looking to be mentored can easily communicate with an experienced educator/storyteller for a limited time (no more than 4 hours a month for 2 months). Educators/storytellers who are willing to donate their time are listed on the Mentors List on the YES! Website. If you are looking to be mentored, please choose one of the mentors listed and contact them directly. If desired, a mentee can work with more than one mentor at a time. At the completion of the first agreed time frame it will be up to the mentor and mentee as to whether they continue the mentorship.

Mentor Sherry Norfolk stated, “Providing the opportunity for mentorship is one of the most important services we can offer to our members! By working together, experienced and developing teaching artists can ensure high-quality, rigorous storytelling classrooms across America. If I have learned anything about working in the classroom, it is that we can all learn from each other. I can learn from the students and teachers I work with and the storytellers that I mentor. And they can learn from me — win-win!”

Here is your chance to work with one of the best! If you are a member of the YES! SIG working with children and would like to work with one of the YES! SIG’s most prestigious mentors, please go to the Mentors List and find the right mentor for you today. If you would like to join the YES! SIG, please visit the NSN website to join now! http://www.storynet.org/sig.html

For more information on the YES! Mentorship Program please contact Joanna Demarest, YES! Mentorship Program Coordinator at Joanna@joannademarest.com.

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