We had a fantastic couple of hours and, rather selfishly, as I said to her, this was perfect timing for me. GR8 MATES now has three programs operating, nine more schools want to run the program and I will not be able to launch one more program without making some changes. While I picked away at her program with question after question, she willingly shared with me all her relevant experiences. Most important she shared ideas as to how the program could expand with the use of volunteers. As already mentioned, she has programs operating in 14 schools, developed over six years, and uses volunteers extensively to manage and run the programs in these different schools. The School Coordinator clearly has a very important role to play and, as we all know, without the Principal’s support, no program is likely to be long-lasting.
I was advised to be careful about who I allow to do the training and to make sure that the participating schools are fully aware of their commitments before deciding to participate. Obviously she can’t do everything and the schools have to know that from the beginning. She likes them to feel self-empowering in the partnership, though I might not adopt that approach, as GR8 MATES is still new and our Policies and Procedures are still being worked on, so we can write more specifics into the program at this point.
It was also made clear to me the urgency of setting up our Steering Committee so that I did not have to feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. She had come close to burn-out twice already and was learning how to let her Committee make decisions in the knowledge that she simply cannot do everything! It sounded as if her Committee was a relatively new addition to the program and is still a ‘work in progress’.
So, I drove home with plenty to think about. Next day, as I opened my emails at the office, there was one from one of the local Neighborhood Centres I have been working with in recent months, suggesting we get together to discuss the composition of the Steering Committee and how they might be able to assist. Perfect timing!!
Not being one who likes reinventing the wheel, I was enormously grateful that another Coordinator from a well-established program was happy to share with me. We have agreed to keep in touch. Of course, the day after I had met with her I had a further list of questions to ask. We will be talking again tomorrow :-), this time by phone.
And, in case you think I was just taking, taking, taking – not true! I left her with a copy of our Policies and Procedures on the understanding that it is still a ‘work in progress’ – she seemed interested in adapting our Mentor Log sheet for her program – as well as some of my published material.