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Mentoring enables student’s success Murphy beats the odds

Marvalle Murphy is an exemplary student and football player. Murphy, a 15-year-old ninth grader, attends Harrison Education Center (HEC) sitting atop a hill at 501 Irving Avenue North Minneapolis. Marvalle Murphy is an exemplary student and football player. Murphy, a 15-year-old ninth grader, attends Harrison Education Center (HEC) sitting atop a hill at 501 Irving Avenue North Minneapolis.

HEC educates students grades 9-12, challenged with Emotional & Behavioral Disorders (EBD), through Individualized Education Programs (IEP). Students are placed in two small learning communities, the Foundations and Compass programs, which address academic and social skills needs. Students placed in alternative schools are lagging behind in the normal school structure due to lack of credits or bad behavior.

Murphy beat the odds by substantially improving his academic work. His hard work and determination paid off; he is transitioning to a neighborhood high school in the near future. This success story adds value to the Time to Read program (TTR), an AOL Time Warner Cable volunteer literacy mentoring program. The program was created in 1985 to combat the crisis of low literacy among American children, grades 3-6, and adults and teens reading at or above the fourth-grade level. Currently, there are 575 TTR sites in America with 30,000 reading mentors and learners. Various sites are housed in schools, adult education centers, prisons, libraries, churches, community centers, clinics and homeless shelters. Volunteer TTR trained reading mentors also serve as tutors and role models. To assist students TTR volunteers utilize a specialized curriculum, magazines, and other reading materials. Volunteers range from Time Warner employees, college and high school students, to community members.

Every Thursday Mark Boehler and Jim Osterberg, Time Warner employees, serve as mentors to Murphy at HEC. Their main goal is helping Murphy improve literacy skills so he can pass the mandatory Minnesota Basic Skills Test and transition schools. However Boehler believes time spent with Murphy is a reciprocal learning experience. Boehler said, "One of the things that I appreciated most here was the respect that Marvelle gave us and the learning that I got from him. I’ve gained a new insight and respect for what goes on at Harrison and also for Marvalle. I am excited to see him move on because when we first got here we said, 'What do you want to do?' and he said, 'I want to get out of here I want to move on.'

"So to achieve that goal is great," said Boehler. The relationship developed between Murphy, an African American student and his mentors, two Caucasian males, exemplifies the purpose for the Minneapolis division of TTR. TTR aims to build a brighter future by educating diverse populations. Mentors are also drawn from major community businesses and organizations such as Insight News, Women of Distinction and Minneapolis Chapter NAACP. After the mentors work with students for one year sharpening reading skills and building relationships, the students receive a credit in reading.

Diana Hawkins, Senior Public Affairs Coordinator at Time Warner, oversees the TTR program. For three years Hawkins has worked with a youth advisory council with Karen Kupfer Johnson, a reading/mentoring specialist at HEC. Currently, Hawkins is a member of this board. Additionally, they worked together in career and literacy fairs. TTR was looking to expand by adding another alternative school as host of the program. HEC was a natural fit, and the new program site was fully operational September 2003. Other TTR sites include Franklin Middle School, Northeast Middle School, Nellie Stone Johnson Community School, Volunteers of America High School, Imani Family Services, and Cookie Cart.

Murphy is an example to all students determined to succeed in life. Murphy is relieved with his accomplishment. "It feels good. I have been in this system for three years now and I am finally just getting out," he said. His future goals are to bec

January 26, 2004
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