Amid state and federal budget crises, funding for all things educational continues to sit on the chopping block. Yet, in spite of all the unknowns, the Mono County Office of Education is pushing forward to fulfill its mission statement of providing “exemplary educational programs” to the community.
“We can’t just assume we can’t do things because we don’t have the money,” said MCOE Superintendent Stacey Adler. “We can’t let that stand in our way.”
With that mindset, MCOE is reviving two of its programs, Adult Education and Student Mentoring, which have been out of commission for several years.
The first adult education class MCOE will offer is English as a Second Language, scheduled to begin this month. The two free classes, which will be taught by fully credentialed bi-lingual teachers, are full at this time. MCOE will wait and see how many people actually show up on the first day of instruction and then determine whether a third class will be added in order to accommodate everyone that is interested in attending.
“We haven’t done a lot of adult education because of funding, but it is our big mission this year,” Adler said of MCOE’s three year hiatus. The hope is to now grow the program and offer other types of classes as well.
“We receive a small funding stream for adult education, which we have held onto for the past few years to create a reserve,” Adler explained. “We are surveying local teachers right now to see what they might want to teach, and would also love to hear from the community about what type of classes they would like to take.”
Ideas can be technical like the English as a Second Language class, or take a more fun approach like quilting. Some of the fun classes may have a fee associated with them in an effort to sustain the program.
“We are not looking to make money off the program, we just want to keep it running and continue to expand,” Adler said.
If you have ideas for classes you would like to take or to teach, e-mail Adler at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by the MCOE offices and see her.
The second program revival is gaining momentum on a purely volunteer basis. Several years ago, the Stand by Me Mentor Program fell by the wayside, again due to funding issues. The program had paired students up with adult mentors that helped them with their homework, participated in activities with them, and just hung out.
“Sometime kids with amazing parents still need another adult relationship to really turn into super stars,” Adler explained.
And she’s not the only one who realized this. Cassandra Millan, who had seen the Stand by Me Program in action, realized its value and is now leading the charge to get a new Mono County mentor program up and running, starting with Mammoth Middle School.
With MCOE shepherding the program and Millan volunteering her time to organize the pairing of mentor to mentees, the only thing still needed are mentors.
“It is a little bit difficult to ask people to be mentors because as part of the process they have to get fingerprinted,” Adler said. With tight budgets all around, MCOE is unable to subsidize the cost of this required documentation.
“It’s tough to ask people to pay $70 to get fingerprinted during these hard times,” Adler said.
But the rewards for the investment are unlimited.
“There is a once a month big group meeting of all the mentors and mentees, but the rest is up to the mentor and the student who can meet as often or as little as they want,” Adler said. She did recommend, however, that people interested in becoming mentors plan to set aside at least one hour per week to meet with their mentee.
“It really builds a lasting relationship and can be a very powerful thing for kids,” Adler said.
The Mono County Office of Education has its fingers in educational processes all over the county, and even runs all of the library branches, which is very uncommon according to Adler. In fact, MCOE is the only office of education in California to take on this task. To find out more about what MCOE can offer you, check out the website www.monocoe.org.