University of Minnesota
Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention | Institute on Community Integration
Institute on Community Integration CEHD

Photo of mentor with student, representing Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention.

Mentor Perspectives: A Panel Discussion with Check & Connect Mentors

Friday, October 13, 2017 • 11:05am

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This panel discussion features Check & Connect mentors who will discuss their experiences with Check & Connect and increasing student engagement at their schools. These mentors come from a variety of different implementation types and will share their perspectives regarding challenges, success stories, and tips for maximizing program success.

PANEL CHANGE: Nancy Becerra-Balbuena was not able to make the panel, however her supervisor, Jordan Zahrte, offered to serve on the panel in Nancy's place.

Moderated by Check & Connect, Institute on Community Integration

Joseph Angaran, M.A.

Joseph Angaran, M.A., (moderator) is a program specialist and national trainer for Check & Connect at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.

Deborah Cook

Deborah Cook is the coordinator and lead mentor of Check & Connect at Sumner Elementary School in Austin, Minnesota. She has been in education for twenty-seven years. Throughout her career, she has taught third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, with much of her experience in the fourth-grade classroom. Through these experiences, Ms. Cook has developed skills in the areas of co-teaching, parallel teaching, and collaborative teaching.

Nancy Becerra-Balbuena

Nancy Becerra-Balbuena is a Promise Fellow at the Integrated Arts Academy in Eastern Carver County Schools in Chaska, Minnesota. She is a recent graduate of Northwestern College, Iowa where she volunteered as a mentor for Latino high school students. Having grown up in a first-generation family where information about getting into college was limited, Nancy knows the importance of having someone who supports you, believes in you, and doesn’t give up on you. She provides this now as a Promise Fellow, encouraging students to dream big and believe that they can attain those long term goals, even though there may be hurdles to go through. Nancy Becerra-Balbuena was not able to make the panel, however her supervisor, Jordan Zahrte, offered to serve on the panel in Nancy's place.

Waleed Ma’arouf

Waleed Ma’arouf is a new and passionate face in the field of education, graduating in May of 2016 with a master’s degree in learning sciences from Indiana University. He currently works as a graduation and career coach for Washington High School in Indiana. Working with 40-50 students per week, his goal is to place and keep them on track to graduate, as well as connect them to further opportunities beyond high school. He encourages students to become engaged, motivated, and active in building their future by providing room for autonomy and creation, as well as giving all-around support for their interests, passions, and hobbies.

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