President’s Panel – November 5, 2016
Topic – Paying it Forward: AOSA’s Digital  Mentor Program
Moderator – Jim Solomon
Panelists – Steve Calantropio (AOSA Education Director), Joyce Stephansky, and Mentor Program Participants: Judith Thompson-Barthwell (mentor)/Kevin Gunther (mentee) and Marjie Van Gunten (mentor)/Sarah Farrell (mentee)
Reporter: Martha O’Hehir, Reverberations Editorial Board


The AOSA Education Director analyzed the data and found that there is an 84% attrition rate from Level 1 to Level 3 students. The joy of most Level One students is palpable. So, what is stopping them from returning? One possible answer is that they have have trouble integrating the new Orff practices into their particular school setting. The solution? A seasoned mentor, hand picked to help our new Orff teachers address their perceived challenges, whatever they may be.

The new Mentoring program is a perk of AOSA membership. Here is what people are saying about it:

What Mentors are saying:

  • Our first conversation was informational: where he is, what his school is like, his teaching schedule, classroom formats. We had three observations and we skyped. My first order of business was to tell him all the wonderful things I saw him doing.
  • This is a way I can ‘pay it forward.’ We have gotten so much from this organization. At this time I my life, I am retired. I am happy not to be in the classroom, but I loved doing it, and it touches my soul to be in touch with kids and classrooms.
  • Mentoring is the same as any other kind of teaching.
  • I reinforce the successes the teacher, so they know to do more of that.
  • Mentoring helps me make a new AOSA friend. It helps me extend my legacy into the future and it helps the new Orff teachers to stay with the Schulwerk.
  • This program is also a huge benefit to the organization and helps us keep the organization vibrant in the future. It helps helps us know what the youngsters need.
  • I sent my mentee an article on vocal production, and then I noticed in the next month’s video that the kids were singing better.

What Mentees are saying:

  • I finished level 3 and knew a lot about Orff, but…how to put it all together? My mentor helped me make a spiraling curriculum to meet all the goals, and I no longer presented just a series of great Orff lessons.
  • It was my 18th year teaching but only my fourth year teaching music. I was constantly calling my Levels instructor with questions. I felt guilty because it is not the levels teacher’s job to keep providing support to level students all year. For me, having the mentor teacher is a valid resource.
  • Because of the rules in my district, I could record a video of my teaching. We would view it together and talk about what we saw.
  • Mentorship is like student teaching for levels students!
  • I had no time to think about what I was learning during the summer, so mentorship has been a great to process new ideas and strategies, and try them out right away.
  • I love how the mentorship is ‘all about me.’ It is what brought me to conference.
  • At first, we solved some immediate problems, and now we are working on long term planning.

If you would like to be mentored, go to the member Web Site and click on the tab on the left, to apply.