The joys of mentoring for Mentor-Connect

Pamela Silvers with 2019 Mentor-Connect mentees. (Photo: Madeline Patton)

Pamela J. Silvers isn’t sure if it’s more accurate to say she was a born a teacher or she was born a mentor.

Either way, she knows this: “I really love to see people be able to go forward and blossom.”

That was apparent when she met the teams from Columbus Technical College (Georgia) and SUNY Corning Community College (New York) at Mentor-Connect’s 2019 Technical Assistance and Grant-Writing Workshop this month. During the three-day workshop in New Orleans, Silvers would often weave suggestions and affirmations along with questions when talking with her mentees about their project ideas.

“I have found that the mentoring is near and dear to me. I love the energy of working with other colleges,” Silvers said.

A great network to tap

In 2017, Silvers was a Mentor-Connect mentor fellow. She describes that internship experience as extremely helpful because of the direct access it provided to “amazing” Mentor-Connect mentors who she considers role models. The mentors also gave her helpful advice for Skilled Workers Get Jobs 2.0: Appalachian Impact, her second ATE project that she was then working on.

Because of the way the National Science Foundation (NSF) structured the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, Silvers says, “They truly have created that supportive environment … If something is not going right I can feel totally comfortable with calling someone and asking a question.”

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Silvers received technical assistance, not formal mentoring, from Mentor-Connect when she was writing her first ATE grant proposal in 2011. When she received an ATE grant for the Skilled Students Get Jobs: Recruiting Women and Engaging ALL Students project in 2012, it was the first NSF grant that Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (ABTech) had received.

As a computer technologies instructor at the rural North Carolina college, Silvers is now the principal investigator of Skilled Workers Get Jobs: High School Engagement to Increase Perception of Technology and Engineering Careers, which is her third ATE grant and ABTech’s third as well.

Giving back to the community

In addition to teaching at ABTech and mentoring for Mentor-Connect, her current professional activities include chairing the 2019 High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC). At this annual summer conference, which is in St. Louis this year, ATE projects and centers showcase their work for educators, technicians, workforce development professionals and guidance counselors.

Mentoring for Mentor-Connect and planning HI-TEC are her ways of repaying the many people involved in the ATE program.

“I know I would not have been successful without the NSF ATE community,” Silvers said.

About the Author

Madeline Patton
is an education writer based in Ohio.