Humans need the ice bucket challenge and other thoughts about mentoring

ice-bucketWhen I started this program in 1995, I planned to get it going, staffed and launched, and then continue my engineering work at Hewlett-Packard. Twenty years later, here I am with more passion for the program and its benefits than ever before. Why? It’s because of the mentors who have participated for years to make a difference in the life of each youth they serve. These mentors are incredible human beings. I know many who have mentored nonstop since 1995. I have birth announcements for their children. I have graduation announcements for the same children.

Who volunteers for the same organization for 20 years in a row? It’s humbling, inspiring and I thank God I know these professionals. They are like brothers and sisters. Hold that thought.

Now, I’ve also recognized that the level of stress most corporate professionals are facing has gone up dramatically. An unpredictable economy and fragile job security produces so much stress at the individual level, and yet the human spirit continues to thrive. We see it all the time, most recently with the ice bucket challenge for ALS or Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir. Human beings love to make a difference. They love to collaborate in a way that produces results that no single human being can make on their own. That spirit and drive gives me great hope.

Another aspect of our program that inspires me are the personal success stories. Just last night I caught up with a student who participated in ITP and graduated from high school over a decade ago. She told me that most of the incredible opportunities that have come her way were the result of the professional network she created in our program. When she was a senior in high school, I encouraged her to keep that network together and give us an opportunity to invest in her long term. I also encouraged her to publicly thank any professional who helped her and look for ways to invest in the network. Now she’s ready to be a mentor and help other students. Her passion is directing films. She still communicates regularly with her mentor from Lucas Films.

If you’d like to make a difference in our world by mentoring a youth, let me know. I’d love to talk with you.

David Neils, 970-481-9795,

by David Neils, International Telementor Program founder and president

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When you give a student a mouse…

Mouse in a maze - STEM

7th-grade students test how food dye affects a mouse’s navigation skills

…they discover how food additives affect physical and cognitive performance. This is just one of the lessons learned by  students in Marnie Steele’s Nutrition Science class. Through the International Telementor Program, Steele enlisted the help of professionals working in the health and wellness fields to mentor her students on their year-long journey to understand where food comes from, how growing and processing techniques impact its quality, how food and beverage choices impact health and more. Read more.

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Did you ever have a mentor? Pay it forward


Katy Piotrowski of Career Solutions Group

This column ran on Sunday, July 20, 2014, in The Coloradoan, a daily newspaper in Fort Collins, Colorado. ITP loves this type of endorsement and we hope it inspires you to pay it forward. We invite you to view the list of new projects and pre-register to mentor a student this fall.

Back when I worked in high-tech marketing and was just a newbie, a more experienced colleague pulled me aside one day and said, “Be sure to proof the headlines and phone numbers in your materials. Many people forget to do that.” Continue reading

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Picture-perfect college and career planning

Powerpoint template for scientific posters (Swarthmore College)Powerpoint template for scientific posters (Swarthmore College)At the end of each school term, projects supported by the International Telementor Program come to a close and students present what they learn to an authentic audience, including professionals, teachers and their peers.

One Parkway High School student in Bossier City, Louisiana, shared what she learned in her Career Exploration class about becoming an attorney. Continue reading

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Flood zones and student motivation recover when students engage in authentic work


Megan and Molly

By David Neils

When students know they’re tackling real issues, they’ll put in real effort. Molly and Morgan, two 6th-grade students at Trail Ridge Middle School had an opportunity to tackle a real issue recently–the Colorado flood of fall 2013 that ravaged their community of Longmont, Colorado. Continue reading

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Mentoring helps professionals gain insight, impact students’ lives

Bev Cross

Bev Cross

The International Telementor Program pairs students throughout the world with professionals from companies like Hewlett-Packard, Inc., Google and MasterCard who work with them on a variety of projects ranging from college and career planning to wetland conservation and wildlife habitat restoration to marketing plan development for local businesses.

Since David Neils founded ITP in 1994, more than 47,000 students have benefited from the relationships they build with volunteer mentors Continue reading

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Planting business seeds and growing change agents

trophygirlcropLynne Chrismer, marketing teacher at Holt High School in Wentzville, Missouri, could be called a high-tech farmer. She continuously plants seeds of business savviness and harvests crops of students who are change agents for the world.

With support from the International Telementor Program and professionals around the world who voluntarily work with students to help them learn the ins and outs of business, Chrismer’s students earn high marks and win DECA competitions at state, regional and national levels.

Read why Chrismer partners with ITP and learn some of her secrets for growing a healthy crop of future leaders.

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Students get birdseye view of nesting birds

kestrelStudents from Westview Middle School in Longmont, built a nesting box for kestrels right before their spring break. The work was part of their International Telementor Program-supported conservation project. Jason Helmus, their teacher, provided some help as well. The nesting box is equipped with a WiFi camera and located in the backyard of ITP Founder and President David Neils. It offers an up-close and personal view of how birds keep house and prepare to expand their families. Take a look!

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Students learn compassion, project planning by serving others


Whitney Harris

Whitney Harris, an AVID* teacher at Gateway STEM High School in St. Louis, Missouri, wants her students “to do great big things” and be successful in life. She’s chosen to partner with the International Telementor Program (ITP) to help support her students, who typically are academically average and perhaps from families with a low income that do not  have a tradition of college attendance.

With the help of professionals who volunteer as ITP mentors, students conduct research to discover areas of need in their community, learn who’s working on the identified issues–if anyone, and develop projects to either enhance work already taking place or to address the need in a fresh way.

Beyond learning to serve others, Harris feels ITP mentors help “…students learn to effectively collaborate and how to depend on and trust professional relationships.” And for many of her students, learning to trust is a big deal. Read more.

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Students “dig” real science

DSC02677Students in Longmont, Colorado, are digging their science class. They get to solve genuine conservation and natural resources issues that exist in their own backyard.

With the help of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, and mentors from Agilent Technologies, Hewlett-Packard Co., Merck & Co., Inc. and Thomson Reuters, 8th-grade students from Westview Middle School are getting their hands dirty and learning about wildlife management and ways to mitigate erosion. Continue reading

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