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THE CHRONICLE of MENTORING & COACHING TM Exploring Palomares Empowerment Program-A Three Tier Dyadic Mentorship

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THE CHRONICLE of MENTORING & COACHING TM Exploring Palomares Empowerment Program-A Three Tier Dyadic Mentorship

Abstract

Hidden Curriculum (Boostrom, 2010) consists of learning material that is not defined by curriculum planners or teachers. Majority of these programs are secular and instructional material in nature that will help students in a non-denominational modus operando. Used effectively, it can lead to a positive change in student's attitude towards learning and life in general. One type of hidden curriculum that has shown to be instrumental in improving low achieving students' performance and attitude is the Palomares Spiritual Empowerment Program (PSEP), which has been in operation since March 2014, with impressive outcomes. This three-layer structure, both in design and implementation, has yielded outstanding results, not just in the lives of the students, but more so in the lives of the facilitators who participate in the program. The benefits that the facilitators obtain is enhanced and assured in their closely-involved process with their expert supervisor and trainer in the program's collaboration with the school administrators and parents, who value the unique and complementary contribution of this program. PSEP promises an instrumental and effective outcome based on: (a) focus on critical thinking; (b) inclusive cultural curriculum; (c) a blended-learning implementation with individuals and collaborative activities; (d) a project-based approach; and (e) alignment with Common Core standards. PSEP is a zenith of collaboration between trainer, supervisor, facilitator, and learner, bringing together a dyadic mentorship that not only helps the learner, but it will also greatly impact the learned. Introduction The Palomares Spiritual Empowerment Program (PSEP), a brainchild of The Center for Global Integrated Education, Inc. (CGIE), a non-profit educational organization, was developed to address the needs for a mentorship program in Pomona Unified School District. The PSEP is a Baha'i inspired approach to spiritual empowerment distinguished by special attention to the principle of oneness of all humanity and mindful of the diversity of needs of the students individually and collectively for an integrated educational approach and strategies in application that focuses on the inner powers and strengths of each student. Skill building in the area of multiple intelligences enables students to better serve their community and the greater global village. Developing competency in self-reflection, students will learn critical thinking skills in asking life changing questions and setting goal for self-improvement. Students gain not only knowledge, but wisdom, spiritual insight and eloquent speech by means of arts, music, story telling, practicing communication, consultation, collaboration, consensus building, creative, and critical thinking in the service of greater good (CGIE, 2017).
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Exploring Palomares Empowerment Program—A Three Tier Dyadic Mentorship
Geula, K., & Jafari, N.
California State University—Fullerton
Abstract
Hidden Curriculum (Boostrom, 2010) consists of learning material that is not dened by curriculum planners or
teachers. Majority of these programs are secular and instructional material in nature that will help students in
a non- denominational modus operando. Used effectively, it can lead to a positive change in student’s attitude
towards learning and life in general. One type of hidden curriculum that has shown to be instrumental in
improving low achieving students’ performance and attitude is the Palomares Spiritual Empowerment Program
(PSEP), which has been in operation since March 2014, with impressive outcomes. This three-layer structure,
both in design and implementation, has yielded outstanding results, not just in the lives of the students, but
more so in the lives of the facilitators who participate in the program. The benets that the facilitators obtain
is enhanced and assured in their closely-involved process with their expert supervisor and trainer in the
program’s collaboration with the school administrators and parents, who value the unique and complementary
contribution of this program. PSEP promises an instrumental and effective outcome based on: (a) focus on
critical thinking; (b) inclusive cultural curriculum; (c) a blended-learning implementation with individuals and
collaborative activities; (d) a project-based approach; and (e) alignment with Common Core standards. PSEP
is a zenith of collaboration between trainer, supervisor, facilitator, and learner, bringing together a dyadic
mentorship that not only helps the learner, but it will also greatly impact the learned.
Introduction
The Palomares Spiritual Empowerment Program (PSEP), a brainchild of The Center for Global Integrated
Education, Inc. (CGIE), a non-prot educational organization, was developed to address the needs for a
mentorship program in Pomona Unied School District. The PSEP is a Baha’i inspired approach to spiritual
empowerment distinguished by special attention to the principle of oneness of all humanity and mindful of
the diversity of needs of the students individually and collectively for an integrated educational approach
and strategies in application that focuses on the inner powers and strengths of each student. Skill building
in the area of multiple intelligences enables students to better serve their community and the greater global
village. Developing competency in self-reection, students will learn critical thinking skills in asking life
changing questions and setting goal for self-improvement. Students gain not only knowledge, but wisdom,
spiritual insight and eloquent speech by means of arts, music, story telling, practicing communication,
consultation, collaboration, consensus building, creative, and critical thinking in the service of greater good
(CGIE, 2017).
The educators at CGIE aim to promote, develop, supply, and support educational programs that could
introduce new system of culturally integrated educational curriculum in collaboration with school administrators
and parents dedicated to providing a prosocial environment for students. Among these educational programs,
the Palomares Spiritual Empowerment Program (PSEP), which has been in operation since March 2014, has
resulted in successful outcomes based on the observational assessment and testimonials discussed in this
paper (CGIE, 2017).
The PSEP program started as an after-school, curriculum initially at the request of PUSD visionary
Superintendent, Richard Martinez who was impressed by the social justice service projects of CGIE in the
inner city neighborhoods of Pomona. Recognizing that schools are a safer and more unifying venue for the
effective results of the project, he invited and paved the way for CGIE to offer their services through PUSD. In
consultation, Palomares Academy of Health Sciences was selected. Principal Dr. Camille Beal, teachers and
school counselor were invited to suggest students who showed a potential for leadership and service to the
betterment of their school and community. Soon 25 students brought consent from parents to attend a two-
hour and half weekly session with CGIE trainers. The content of the program aimed for a deeper understanding
of the organic oneness of all humanity ever mindful of the abilities and capabilities of each participant and
their questions. It included mindful meditation, virtues learning, spiritual and social questions and discussions,
stories, songs and art in service of pro-social attitudes and behaviors, emotional management skills, as well as
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consultation and conict resolution skills.
The ongoing support, consultation, cooperation and feedback between PUSD, parents and CGIE team played
a signicant role in the unfolding assessment of the needs of the students, the effectiveness of the process,
the creative nature of delivery and the success of the program. Among the key participants in consultation and
evaluation were Superintendent Martinez, his deputy Fernando Mesa, Principal Dr. Beal, vice principal Jillian
Davis, Counselor Scott Shone, teachers, ofce staff and parents. Students submitted their journal reection
and feedback at the conclusion of each class and their views was taken into account in the design and delivery
of the curriculum. The feedback by students, teachers, parents, and school counselor, principal and even
Superintendent Martinez became an integrated part of our ongoing assessment and evaluation. Three years
into the program in consultation with principal Dr. Beal, we agreed to offer the program as a once a week, two
and half hour in school classroom during the project period to 10 and 11th graders who showed the capacity
to serve as mentors and resource for their school and community. The following year, again with consultation
with the principal, we were asked if we could offer the program every day with an added dimension of
transformative mediation. Student participants were multi age from freshman to senior as they all came under
the same roof for their learning. The age difference and lack of trust among the students to talk and share their
views, thoughts and feelings on different subjects, and the interactive style of delivery initially was a challenge
but gradually they learned not only to welcome the interactive style of learning but to love, support and trust
one another and care for each others’ concerns. The cheerful, respectful and loving relationship of the interns
with each other, with the supervisor, and with the students was a most transformative and effective inuence.
Description
Palomares empowerment/transformative mediation program is a mindfulness and spiritual empowerment
training program provided by Center for Global Integrated Education (CGIE). CGIE's guiding philosophy has
been the elevation of content, as well as the process of education, in order to manifest the latent capacities
of smartness as well as goodness in students. The program was designed specially to address the social,
emotional, psychological, cultural, and moral needs of high school students in a global culture.
The program was supervised by a licensed marriage, family, and child therapist and assisted through the
dedicated services of ve college facilitator interns. Based on discussions with the principal and how she
recognized her students’ need for prosocial understanding, CGIE designed and implemented PSEP, with
necessary appreciation for the role of the parents in sustaining the outcome of the program. PSEP invited the
participation and support of parents to join their children to explore what it takes to create prosperous and
peaceful communities. Palomares Academy of Health Sciences had the advantage of being relatively small;
400 or so students. PSEP appreciated on going consultation with Principal Dr. Beal about how the program
was meeting its goals and what changes could make it even better. She would personally participate in the
trainings at times to support any sign of progress in the conduct of the students on campus.
First Tier —Supervisor
CGIE has been in partnership with Claremont Colleges, Cal Poly Pomona and La Verne University on
social justice and educational projects that is based on the principle of organic oneness of all humanity.
Consequently, with the birth of PSEP, the nearby colleges offered internship opportunity to undergrad volunteer
students to join the team at CGIE in developing, promoting, and executing the program as an after-school
mentorship and eventually to everyday in-class curriculum. The supervisor pre-plans the lesson of the day
with the three foci of the program in mind: (a) focus on critical thinking; (b) Inclusive cultural curriculum; (c) a
blended-learning implementation with individual and collaborative activities, (d) a project-based approach; and
(e) alignment with common core standards. These lesson plans also contain social, emotional, spiritual, and
developmental milestones mechanism in addition to being reviewed with the mentor/facilitator for training and
brainstorming.
Second Tier—Mentor/Facilitator
The second tier involves the training of the mentors/facilitators. These undergrad interns come to the
internship with life questions of their own and are majoring in social sciences; therefore, are curious to use
their knowledge in theories and theory application. They are motivated to collaborate with the supervisor to
bring the lessons into the classroom. During the brain storming session for lessons planned, interns actively
participate and explore how to incorporate current social and spiritual issues in the program. Before each
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lesson, the supervisor and the Mentors/Facilitators spend three or more hours of training per week reecting
on the strength and needs of the students based on their participation in the weekly lessons, their journals
and collective observation. At this time, some activities may be added or modied. It is extremely important
that the facilitators are genuinely interested in serving their communities and are well versed on the nature
of the lesson, its connection to the PSEP curricular premise (the ve focus items mentioned above) and its
applicability to students’ background and social/emotional availability and strength.
Third Tier—Mentee
Participants were elected students ranging from freshman to senior level in higher academic standing, who
live in a disadvantaged and stressful environment and needed proper social and emotional guidance and
support to be curious, strong, hopeful and resilient and willing to explore how to address and nd solutions to
the problems of their own life, home life, school and community. The sample population for this latest stage
of our pilot study was purposely designed to be small in order to better analyze individual results of each
student’s transformation in addition to exploring opportunities for improvement and modication in the program
if needed.
Typical Lesson Planned
At the end of each session everyone takes time to meditate and reect upon what they experienced, their
thoughts, their feelings, their hopes, and the plans of action to make their tomorrow better than today. The
students appreciate the universal power of their wishes and prayers, especially the power they have in wishing
the best for each other and those who struggle, so everyone gets a chance to make progress, feel included,
supported, illumined, loved and therefore empowered to be their best.
Objectives/Goals/Specic Aim of PSEP
Mentorship programs often start as a school program; however, due to the nature of such programs, the
mentors often enter the homes and communities of the mentee. The impact of this one-on-one interaction
spills over and beyond the mentee affecting their relationship with peers, parents, and their own intrapersonal
improvement (Lakind, Atkins, & Eddy, 2016). The dyad relationship between youth mentee and mentor is an
individualized, supportive, and non-parental interpersonal connection that promotes positive developmental
milestones. (DuBois & Karcher, 2005; Keller & Pryce, 2010); however, it is essential that the mentor
establishes a dyadic relation with the mentee to not only understand, but become part of the mentee’s social
networks interacting with these members (Keller & Blakeslee, 2013). Based on the need for dyadic and
social interaction need between mentor and mentee, the PSEP program is mindful of the importance the
community and family members play in supporting the new skills and the open mindset learned as the result
of the program. The goal is to develop and foster students’ full potential beyond the classroom by giving them
a global vision and a sense of belonging. Through home visits and adult interaction and lessons planned,
art, food, music, mentors model as well as encourage students the process celebrates unity in diversity in a
wonderfully diverse global village.
Methodology
Research Design
This is a descriptive, exploratory, qualitative, and observational study designed to make an informal
assessment of PSEP program currently used in the Pomona School District. The methodology is directly
observational documenting the selected students’ outcome in an experimental mentorship program. The
Pomona Unied School District (PUSD) is predominately in a low socioeconomic (SES) neighborhood, where
most of the population is blue-collar working-class with distressing cares and concerns.
Sample Set
Population was selected from the high school students recommended by the principal and consented by the
parents to participate in the study. The sample population were 25 students of both male and female genders –
4 seniors, 3 freshmen were chosen to participate in the nal stage of the pilot program.
Instruments
Two instruments are used to assess the PSEP program: (1) semi-structured interview of students and parents,
and (2) student’s daily reective journal, of their understanding of each session’s learning and how it was
helping them to be hopeful and resilient.
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Results - Multi Factorial Elements in the Success of Palomares
The students’ journals after each class were one source of evaluation. Parents and teachers’ feedback about
student’s change of behavior and joy of learning was taken into account. The comments of school psychologist
noticing the change of behavior of students such showing compassion for other students and teachers, being
willing and taking pride in serving others in need, using deescalating response to other students aggressive
remarks, entering classroom with a smile and greeting the teacher with loving respect, taking a deep breath
and pause to avoid reacting to a hostile remark, being mindful of being hungry, angry, lonely, and tired
and address these personal needs so they are more resilient in times of stress or family chaos. The video
documentaries of classroom activities, where students share before each class what they remember from
their last class and what they have found to be elevating to them in their relationships in school and at home,
and joyful participation of the students in the activities in the group were taken as positive outcomes of PSEP
mentorship program. The Superintendent, the District, and all involved informed CGIE what a difference they
are making in the critical group they were serving. A solid support of PSEP from early on, Superintendent
Martinez, at a gathering publically announced that he was truly impressed with the program results. Also, other
instrumental factors in the positive result of PSEP are described below:
The Role of School District Administration
The Empowerment program at Palomares Academy of Health Sciences owes its inception to the vision of
Superintendent Martinez, who, through his Faith-Based round-table meetings, invited the communities to
serve and support the Pomona Unied School District. The support of the district and school administrators,
such as Fernando Mesa and Principal Camille Beal, Vice- Principal Davis, and the entire school staff has been
most instrumental in the success of the program. The program has won two rounds of awards from the School
District, the City of Pomona and the Legislator for creating and supporting unity in the community.
The Role of School Administrators
One of the contributing factors to the positive outcome of PSEP is the role of principal, Dr. Beal, by her
wholehearted support and active participation in the empowerment program design and outcome. To create
an organic transformation in the unity and the oneness of her school, Principal Beal invited the supervisor
of PSEP, Keyvan Geula LMFT to offer self-care trainings for the teachers and staff. This was yet another
successful strategy as part of the overall school’s efforts to improve the collaborative spirit of the faculty and
student body.
Role of Parents
Principal Beal had been searching for a mentorship program to address the needs of her students and due to
the initial success of the CGEI’s community outreach programs the PSEP was created to meet these needs in
the school community. At this point, Dr. Beal welcomed the offer of CGEI to train the parents in an integrated
approach to positive parenting and afrming the foundation of close collaboration between the parents and the
PSEP program. The loving collaboration across ages provided a healthy example in closing the dysfunctional
generation gap between parents and students by providing vital information on how to be rm and loving in
their parenting style and communication with their children.
The Role of Students
The joy and benets of being outdoors, working in the gardens, harvesting food, playing soccer, exploring the
metaphors of life in nature, translating prayers and spiritual concepts into beautiful actions, murals and other
art forms, learning to cook and eat together, building friendships, transcending stereo types, and learning
to have loving communication and consensus-building consultation, integrates the daily life skills into a
memorable and empowering learning experience. As an example of global integration, the students had an
exciting Skype meeting with likeminded youth in Venezuela and felt empowered by sharing common interest
such as taking pride in doing community service and care for the well being of all humanity. To eliminate
religious prejudice, they participated in an interfaith walk for peace and unity and sang a song in celebration
of oneness. The students observe their own transformation and feel empowered to have transcended the
common pitfalls of arguing and ghting on the school ground and feel happy and proud to share their success
with others. They decided to create their own skits about the empowerment program and the process itself has
been most joyous and empowering. Students invited their parents to join them in their milestone celebrations
dinner reception hearing what their students are proud to have achieved. Parents were welcomed to share
their observation of the progress of their students manifested by loving gestures and conducts at home in
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service of their parents and family. Parents were welcomed to sit on curriculum design consultations and
expressed how gratifying it was to witness what is involved in the process.
Discussion
As stated by Bass and Avolio (1993), communicant and team building are essential elements in mentoring and
transformational program. Effective communication becomes essential for the mentor in delivering the right
message to the students who participate in such programs, in which the main principles of PSEP is taught
by the mentor and learned by the mentee. Another important aspect of mentorship programs is to target the
social emotional learning (SEL) of the mentee. In recent studies of SEL, ndings showed that combining social
emotional training in group learning has a positive impact on competencies, and attitude towards self, others,
and school. This training also helps to improve students’ conduct towards prosocial behavior, which is one
of the principles of PSEP. Research by Durlak, Dymnicki, Taylor, Schellinger, and Weissberg (2011) on the
impact of School-Based Universal Interventions programs led to the conclusion that social emotional learning
of students should also be part of such curriculum. The problem still remains that not all students have been
taught pro-social behavior and many lack social-emotional competencies. These students are less connected
to school as they transition to secondary education and this incompetency and disconnection negatively affects
their academic performance, behavior, and health (Blum & Libbey, 2004 as cited by Durlak et al, 2011). For
these students, such integration of SEL into mentorship and leadership programs becomes an essential part of
their learning. SEL combines teachings on how to develop protective mechanism for social adjustment, while
promoting positive framework for youth development (Benson, 2006; Catalano, Berglund, Ryan, Lonczak, &
Hawkins, 2002; Guerra & Bradshaw, 2008; Weissberg, Kumpfer, & Seligman, 2003 as cited in Durlack, 2011).
In the area of SEL, PSEP has designed its curriculum on the premise of conict resolution through positive
conduct, mindful of the well being of humanity and their own spiritual self.
A key challenge still remains to be the matter of serving diverse students with different cultural backgrounds,
abilities, and motivational agendas for learning (Learning First Alliance, 2001 as cited by Durlak et al., 2011).
Past research has shown that designing a program that meets the different culture and background of
students has a higher positive impact on the academic engagement and prosocial activities of the participants
(Battistich, Schaps, & Wilson, 2004). The most important skill in the prosocial development would be empathy
and connectedness, which will improve interpersonal relationships of the individual (Elliott, Gresham, Freeman,
& McCloskey, 1988). It is also imperative that both school and the organization, which coordinated the program
must interact in total support to ensure a more successful outcome. The relationship between CGIE, the
founder of the PSEP, and the PUSD, particularly, the superintendent, Richard Martinez has shown to be a
reection of this research nding. Positive support from both agencies will lead to positive outcome of the
mentorship program.
Another important element in the success of PSEP is the contribution of caring interns from Claremont
Colleges, Cal Poly Pomona, University of La Verne, and Cal State Fullerton interns. As part of pedagogical
development and community engagement, universities are increasingly collaborating with service-oriented
organizations for the purpose of imprinting socially conscious communities (Reeb, Folger, Langsner, Ryan, &
Crouse, 2010). This dual engagement benets students, who have an opportunity to serve their community in
addition to beneting the society at large (Altman, 1996). The above institutions have certainly taken the lead in
community engagement and social promotion.
Limitations
The researchers acknowledge that more studies and data across multiple and specic measurements of
outcome areas is needed. The PSEP is at its infancy of design and implementation; therefore, it has yet to
be tested multiple times in a variety of socioeconomic statuses and school districts to examine its universality
and application in various contexts. It is recommended by the researchers that, while PSEP at Palomares has
shown promising and successful results, other schools should be encouraged to participate in a similar pilot
study in order to increase the reliability and validity of the program. It is noteworthy to mention that there is
currently no standardized approach or theory-driven technique to look at social emotional skill building program
(Dirks, Treat, & Weersing, 2007); however, programs such PSEP may be instrumental in the creation of such
assessment and measurement tools. In addition, the researchers recommend that a formal assessment of
the PSEP program be conducted by a university in order to show, in detail, how the program works in various
school contexts.
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Conclusion
The PSEP program began with an after-school empowerment program for junior high and high school students
and eventually grew, in consultation with every one involved, into an in school empowerment, transformative
mediation and community-building mentorship program. The participating students were selected from a
pool of recommended students by their school for having demonstrated the potential to be role models and
resources to their school and their community. The selection process brings to attention the importance of
collaboration and community engagement in the success of this program. In addition, the school administrators
and school district play an integral role in ensuring such success, which is denitely worth exploring in future
mentorship programs. The elements that need more attention and improvement have to do with greater
collaboration and involvement with the parents, whose training in integrating parenting and community
engagement is an essential and important part of a mentorship program. As research has shown, mentorship
programs working in isolation generally do not yield the same high success rate as the collaborative programs
do. PSEP utilizes maximum amount of engaging, empowering, interactive strategies and activities to guide
mentees in how to articulate, understand, and communicate resolving issues. The program uses lessons that
incorporate open-mindedness and strategies that are necessary for their success not only in their remainder of
school life, but also for after leaving teen years and entering college and beyond.
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