Become a Mentor

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Building and sustaining partnerships is at the core of the Kenan Fellows Program. The centerpiece of the program is a three-week summer internship that gives Fellows the opportunity to learn from mentors in laboratories and industries.

Together, Fellows and mentors develop a strategy for turning the internship experience into valuable teaching tools and educational resources that can be implemented in their classrooms as well as shared with other teachers across the state and nation.

This one-of-a-kind collaboration offers a valuable experience not only for the Fellows but also for the mentors, who gain a stronger understanding and appreciation of the K–12 education profession. Continue reading to learn more.

If you are interested in mentoring a Kenan Fellow, please contact us at kenanfellows@ncsu.edu or call 919-515-5118.

The Role of the Mentor/s

Mentors offer lab or industry experience to introduce Fellows to the latest developments and technologies as well as provide opportunities for networking and continued partnerships. Participation in the program provides mentors with the opportunity to contribute to the depth and relevance of instruction at the K-12 level as well as raise awareness about local careers and opportunities for students. The mentor shares valuable skills and provides a perspective on the importance of the teacher’s role in preparing students for future study and work.

Getting Started

Typically, the summer internship is at least three weeks, 40 hours per week. Prior to the internship, mentors partner with Kenan Fellows Program staff to review applications, interview finalists and select the best educator for their project. Once the fellowship has been awarded, the mentor will arrange a time to discuss the logistics for the internship with the Fellow such as scheduling, security, parking, etc.

Week 1: Orientation and Integration

During the first week of the internship, the lead mentor will typically introduce the Fellow to key staff members, provide a tour of the facility, give an overview of the organization and arrange for any training. Mentors and Fellows also discuss the connections between the workplace and the classroom and begin exploring ideas for how the teacher will bring this experience to students and other educators. Once the Fellows and mentors have established their mutual short and long-term goals, they can more intentionally shape the schedule for the remainder of the internship.

Week 2: Collaboration

Ideally, the teacher is offered a variety of experiences including shadowing or interviewing staff members in different departments, and opportunities for “hands-on” learning. Mentors often invite the Fellow to staff meetings and other gatherings to help them get acclimated to the culture of the organization as they begin to design their product. Mentors also allocate time throughout the internship to discuss shared goals and address any questions or concerns.

Week 3: Transformation and Finalization

The final week of the internship allows time for reflection. Mentors and Fellows typically discuss lessons learned from the internship, brainstorm other ways they can continue to partner and make plans for the mentor to visit the teacher’s classroom or arrange a field trip for the students to visit the mentor’s organization. By the end of the internship, the Fellow and mentor should have a more concrete plan for how the teacher will translate this experience to the classroom and/or the community.

After the Internship

The internship may be over, but the partnership between the fellow and mentor organization is only just beginning. Each fellowship is unique and offers different opportunities for collaboration in the future. Mentors are encouraged to keep in touch with their fellow and invite them to future corporate or industry events that may be of interest. Often fellows will become an advocate for the industry where they intern. This can lead to lasting community partnerships with local educators who are teaching the next generation.

Final Product

The Kenan Fellows product is a joint effort between the mentor and the fellow. The mentor provides expertise and content based on his or her research and or industry expertise. The Fellow ensures that the product is age-appropriate and supports the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. Together, the team works to produce new lessons that are relevant and engaging. These may be curriculum projects that bring the excitement of cutting-edge science, technology, and industry practices or research into the K-12 classroom. The products can also take the form of community engagement events such as a STEM night or professional development for other educators.

Empower Educators

The following video by our long-term supporters and mentors at North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives demonstrates the power of Business-Education Partnerships.