Q: Where is the Helen Faison Academy, and why was North Way matched with this school?
The Helen Faison Academy is located in two campuses in the Homewood section of the City of Pittsburgh. Completed in 2004, the Primary Campus (K-4, 500 students) is an award-winning learning facility located on Tioga Street. The Intermediate Campus (5-8, 368 students) is housed in the former Crescent Elementary School on Bennett Street.
The students who attend Faison face significant risk for educational failure as defined by the school district. Over 85% of the students who attend both campuses are eligible for “Title I” services targeted to students and families with low and moderate incomes. A closer review of the students and the neighborhood reveals many students at both campuses must overcome serious barriers – academic, social, and environmental – to learning on a daily basis. Education and mentoring professionals have indicated that the students and families at Faison continue to benefit measurably from the support of L.A.M.P.
Q: How can I help?
North Way has created six teams of volunteers to assist students and families at the Helen Faison campuses: One-to-One Mentors, Family-to-One Mentors, School-based Mentors, Group Mentors, Prayer Support, Mobilization Administration.
Q: Why do I need training?
The introductory training combines basic mentoring skills training with an orientation to the Faison Academy and its community. Through our partnership with Family Guidance, Inc. – the most successful and experienced faith-based mentoring organization in Pittsburgh – we want to equip all of our volunteers with the tools they need to be successful. These tools include essential training in mentoring and cultural proficiency provided by Pittsburgh Public School District’s expert consultant team. While some of our volunteers are experienced educators and community activists, they have all been enriched by the high quality of training provided by Family Guidance, Inc. Please contact Bryan McCabe (724) 822-7067 if you have questions.
Q: Is there a minimum time commitment to be a mentor?
Yes. When you agree to become a mentor, we require a minimum one-year commitment. Experienced mentors have identified consistency and reliability as important issues in the lives of the children we seek to serve. In some cases, it may take close to a year to develop a meaningful relationship with a child on a weekly basis. If this is a requirement, because of your other commitments, you believe you cannot fulfill, that is perfectly acceptable. As you can see, there are a number ways to serve the children.
Q: Do I need a certain educational or professional background to be a School-based Mentor?
No. You only need a heart to serve these kids who face so many obstacles to learning. Experience with teaching and/or raising children is helpful but not necessary. Mastery of academic skills - mathematics, reading, writing, science, and others - is NOT required.
Q: In L.A.M.P.’s first year, were we able to make any academic progress?
Yes! Whether it was improved grades, higher standardized test scores, fewer absences or disciplinary incidents, God has done significant work in the lives of Faison Primary and Intermediate students. Many of our mentors report significant improvement by the children they are serving.
Q: May I serve on more than one team at a time?
Yes, many of our volunteers participate on a number of levels in L.A.M.P. It is not unusual for a volunteer to tutor students and serve as a One-to-One or Family-to-One Mentor. The only limit on your participation is your time.
Q: What is Family Guidance?
Family Guidance is a comprehensive faith-based resource agency that provides training, support, supervision, and coordination for the L.A.M.P. mentors.
Email Pastor Bryan McCabe
or 724.935.6803 ext. 2343 if you have additional questions.
Joanne Galinowski, Mentoring Supervisor, Family Guidance, Inc.: (412) 741-8550
Errika Fearbry Jones, Director, L.A.M.P. and Gang Free Schools and Communities, Pittsburgh Board of Education: (412) 622-3930