MITIE offers many opportunities for members to engage with, and learn from each other, such as term conferences, the online forum and a host of other initiatives. Building on this work, MITIE commenced a peer mentoring program in February this year to allow members to engage one-on-one with a mentor to support them in their professional development and growth.
Nathan Mares, who is a mentor and one of the program’s coordinators, said the peer mentoring program provides a great opportunity to “leverage the knowledge” of the MITIE community.
“Some of our members have decades of experience and have seen how the industry has changed over that time,” said Nathan who is the IT Director at Roseville College on Sydney’s North Shore. “We also have members who are fairly new in their ICT roles, as well as those stepping up into leadership positions, and it seemed like a mentoring program was a good way to share and build the expertise between schools and across the MITIE membership.”
The program, which is sponsored by Corporate Partners Next Technologies and EdSmart, was initially promoted via workshops last December and in January this year, resulting in 15 mentees nominating to be paired up with volunteer mentors.
Both mentees and mentors commit to a six-month arrangement, however mentor and co-coordinator of the program, Ally Eddy, said he sees his mentoring partnership continuing.
“It’s an ongoing professional dialogue,” said Ally who is the ICT Manager of Giant Steps Australia, a school for students with Autism in Sydney. “Since the start of the year I’ve had three video conferences with my mentee Wayne and I’ve just spent two days at his school in the term holidays.”
“We don’t follow a formal mentoring structure as such, but have engaged in a natural professional conversation, sharing our ideas and learning from each other,” he said. “Now we have established this connection, it makes sense to keep chatting and Wayne will come down to Sydney in July to see how we work at Giant Steps.”
Wayne, who has been in his ICT leadership role at Calrossy Anglican School in Tamworth for about two and a half years, is finding great value in the program.
“I’ve had a previous ICT role in Bourke for a few years, and have come from a technical background, but I thought the program would allow me to get more specific advice and direction from someone who has been working at the leadership level in a school,” said Wayne. “Learning from someone with Ally’s experience has been excellent.”
“I’ve found the members in MITIE are so willing to share their expertise, and being a regional school, the mentoring program helps to alleviate the tyranny of distance,” he said. “It’s been really helpful to get a different perspective and to understand the challenges other schools face and how they have overcome these challenges.”
Program participants receive preparatory training with facilitator Lynne Stone, the former principal of St Catherine’s Waverley. Lynne has extensive experience in delivering mentoring programs from her role as National Partnerships Coordinator at AISNSW, and in her work as an education and leadership consultant.
“The training guides mentors in setting expectations around the program, the roles of mentees and mentors and how to establish appropriate boundaries,” said Nathan. “We’ve had two workshops in Sydney and Melbourne and are hoping to offer a further workshop in Queensland later in the year.”
“We already have a number of mentees who have put their hands up for the next round which is very positive,” he said.
Nathan’s mentee Dane Marcus from The King’s School is finding the program beneficial.
“It’s a great way of connecting with someone you wouldn’t normally have contact with,” Dane said. “We’ve been able to discuss our industry, positions, problems and wins, and the program also allows us to share ideas, plans and knowledge.”
“It definitely allows us to become a stronger community,” he said.
Nathan said the benefits flow both ways.
“As a mentor, it’s interesting to hear how things are done at another school and challenges you to think differently about how you operate,” he said. “I get to think about my own principles and approaches in a particular area, and how I handle situations. It allows me to reflect on my own practice.”
Expressions of interest are open for both mentors and mentees. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to our corporate sponsors who have made this mentoring program possible: