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Mentor Youth Now - A Guidebook for Transforming Young Lives Paperback – November 22, 2011
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About the Author
Jill Gurr founded the nonprofit Create Now (www.createnow.org) fifteen years ago, which reaches troubled youth through creative arts mentoring. She has trained hundreds of mentors to help thousands of kids. Jill has been featured on “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” CNN’s "Anderson Cooper 360°" and in the Los Angeles Times. She is one of eight people in the U.S. selected to be in an exhibition at the Museum of Tolerance called "Everyday Heroes."
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By the time I retired from teaching academic students, I was noticing socialization and health problems similar to those experienced by the remedial reading students of the mid 70s. I suspect that these days, if parents are not involved with their children, conditions are no better. They may be worse.
When I began to read MENTOR YOUTH NOW, I told myself to overlook Ms. Gurr's repeated references to herself and her accomplishments, since initially they seemed a bit much. After a couple of chapters that delivered on the promises of the introductory section, however, I was ready to hear from her whenever she wanted to chime in. I also found the Macintosh-style boxes holding stories for special consideration less and less bothersome. Maybe I just became accustomed to the book's style, but really I think the preponderance of good information and convincing reflection of experience won me over.
Bottom line: this is a good book. Maybe it isn't the only one you'll want to read regarding mentoring, but it has the ring of authenticity. Also, my experience with creative endeavors, though not graced by performance artists, tells me that Ms. Gurr is on to something that works. (When I was teaching, the National Council of Teachers of English brought us some of the info that Ms. Gurr apparently learned as a writer and applied so usefully to the needs of at-risk children.) Although a careful testing, reading, and exercise program probably did as much as anything to help my students to gain minimally one year in comprehension for each year they had my class, activities like writing original poetry and holding a simple play on "the big stage" of the school for an audience composed of years 9 through 11 of the reading classes certainly helped the 12th graders to pull together and end their senior year on a high note. Such a continuation of affective progress was important for people who easily could have seen themselves as wasting time in a final year of school. Officially, mentoring the students was not part of my job, and choosing to add it to teaching did make things more difficult at times, but ultimately we had fun.
That's why Ms. Gurr's book rings true.
Ms. Gurr., the author, began her career in movies and moved into creating an arts and mentoring organization for at risk youth. Not only does this lady know whereof she speaks, she can write!