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November 9, 2004 > School Board Member/Educator as a Mentor

School Board Member/Educator as a Mentor

by Penny Yee - Union City

What is a mentor? We can easily find the definition in Websters Dictionary. If we were to think outside the box, we would define a mentor as Mrs. Janice Schaefer, President, Newark School Board, and a professional teacher.

Simply put, a mentor is a wise and trusted counselor and educator who possesses exemplary characteristics. As a 3rd grade teacher at a school located in Union City, Schaefer has displayed the many high quality characteristics of an effective educator, and many of her students-past and present-express the desire to emulate these qualities and many pursue teaching careers.

While her teaching profession is her primary career of choice, not many of her Union City school students are aware that Janice spends a considerable amount of time with the Newark community. Not many are aware that she has elected to get involved in local and civic government. You see, Schaefer is the President of the Newark School Board of Education. Not many of her students in the past have been aware of this, except for one, named JJ.

JJ took the initiative to search for a role model, an individual who displays integrity, wisdom, is trustworthy, and one who displays leadership skills. It was simple for JJ to look upon her family members as role models, but she found an individual who was physically and emotionally with her during school hours - her teacher Janice Schaefer. JJ's inquisitive questions regarding the teaching profession became more fruitful when she asked about Janice's role at school board meetings. As a result, JJ, who is now a fifth-grader, has attended virtually all school board meetings for about a year, and continues to attend meetings. You may ask, why would a fifth-grader attend school board meetings? The answer is rather simple: JJ expressed the desire to perhaps follow in the footsteps of her role model and mentor, Janice Schaefer. Schaefer is a competent, professional educator who takes the time to care. Her professionalism, integrity, exceptional analytical and leadership skills are above reproach.

How am I aware of all this? I am the proud mother of JJ, and a former parent volunteer Schaefer's classroom! While most preteens believe that movie stars or rap singers are their role models, I am ecstatic that my daughter has selected a local role model and mentor who values quality education for all public school students!

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