Alexandra Connell ’10, the HWS Project Eye-to-Eye Coordinator, and her mentors recently had their first “art room session at Geneva Middle School. On Fridays from 3 to 4:30 p.m., Connell says, the 12 mentors in the HWS program go to the middle school and work with a dozen mentees.
Project Eye-To-Eye is a national mentoring program that matches college students who have learning disabilities with elementary, middle, and high school students who also have learning disabilities in order to empower them and help them find successes. The college students, who themselves have experienced the implications of a learning disability, act as tutors and role models for the mentees. The program is coordinated through the Colleges’ Center for Teaching and Learning.
Connell, who was diagnosed with dyslexia in the second grade, said she wanted to be involved in Eye-to-Eye to help the children build self-esteem and self-advocacy skills and to help them with difficulties she has experienced—to make their lives easier.
Through an art curriculum, mentors work to empower the mentees to “celebrate their differences and boost their imagination and self-esteem. For example, the HWS mentors worked with the middle schoolers to create, with discarded materials, inventions that would help them with school. The inventions ranged from “easy-buttons to “pencil-multipliers to “homework-doers. Following the inventing process, mentors and mentees discussed existing things that could help them, such as computers, calculators, and organizational techniques, thus establishing an academic empowerment through artistic creativity, part of the Eye-to-Eye philosophy.
Now working at 24 schools throughout the nation, Project Eye-to-Eye was founded at Brown University by Jonathan Mooney and David Flink, both dyslexics, who had difficulty in early schooling. Their eventual success at Brown showed them the need “to transcend their past experiences and attempt to empower others who might be encountering similar difficulty in school. For more information on Mooney and Flink and Project Eye-to-Eye, visit the Project’s website. http://www.projecteyetoeye.org/
Mentors must have an identified learning disability, but all are welcome to help with the art room. If you are interested in joining or learning more about the HWS chapter, e-mail Connell at firstname.lastname@example.org. As she says, “it’s really special … there’s nothing else like it.
A story about the art club run by Project Eye-to-Eye at Geneva Middle School appeared in the Sunday, Nov. 4 edition of the Finger Lakes Times. Read it here.