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IBM’s Mentoring Commitment Shines At K-Lo

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IBM’s Melissa Turesky with her student KeyPal

When we think of IBM, we tend to think “computers.” But 19 fifth and sixth graders
matched with an IBM employee through the Kennedy-Longfellow KeyPal program
learned recently that computers did not even exist 100 years ago when IBM started.
Students and KeyPal mentors were treated to a special video on how IBM technology has
changed the world when they met for the first time at IBM prior to starting their yearlong
e-mail correspondence.

In collaboration with Draper Laboratory and MIT, IBM’s KeyPal program, which is
part of its international mentoring initiative called Mentorplace, is now in its 18th year,
focusing on building literacy and career awareness. In total, all 58 fifth and sixth graders
at Kennedy-Longfellow get a mentor.

IBM mentors correspond weekly with middle school students and help them with
interviews and biographies of each KeyPal volunteer, as well as book reviews and
PowerPoint creations to showcase their work. Four face-to-face visits take place during
the year as well: two at the workplace and two additional times for breakfast (at the
Kennedy-Longfellow, with parents also invited) and lunch (at MIT). A majority of the
KeyPals are either in the technology or sales fields at IBM.

According to MacDougall and Faraneh Serino, site coordinators for the
KeyPals program, IBM has a long history of promoting community involvement for its
employees. For the company’s recent 100th anniversary, employees were encouraged to
take part in a community service day. Many KeyPals participated and were able to share
their interesting experiences with students at the workplace gathering.

As Serino explained, KeyPals still make the student/mentor relationship a priority despite
their busy work schedules and mounting demands to work harder and often with fewer
resources. As a further show of support for the program, IBM recently awarded $5000
to Kathy Walsh-Malone, Technology Integration Specialist at the Kennedy-Longfellow,
for additional computer software and laptops through a grant written by site coordinator,
MacDougall.

In collaboration with its two corporate partners, IBM participates in the grade 6 KeyPal
luncheon each spring and hosts the grade 5 year-end luncheon, events that are always
highlights of the year for all participating students. These final face-to-face visits allow
time for students to showcase examples of recent work, such as their Year-in-Review
PowerPoints.

CSV thanks its KeyPal corporate partners and volunteers for their caring and
commitment to the students of Cambridge! Please join us for the March 15 CSV
Now! event honoring KeyPal program partners – Draper Laboratory, IBM and the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For more information and to register, go to: http://
csvnow.eventbrite.com

 



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