Classroom Partners

A University of Minnesota / Murray Middle School collaboration providing tutors and mentors in middle school classrooms.

Background

Murray Middle School (2200 Buford Ave, St Paul  55108)  is located 4 blocks from the St Paul Campus and 3 blocks from the #3 bus line. It is home to a diverse student population; many students are from backgrounds currently under-represented in professional fields; 60% qualify for free/reduced lunch. The teachers and staff at Murray are inspiring -- they have a strong commitment to help students from all backgrounds excel. Our role is to provide an army of flexible, conscientious adults who can come alongside students in the classroom and support their learning.

Your commitments

Training. Volunteers, in addition to completing Safety of Minors training provided by the U and a background check, commit to full participation in training provided by Murray. The goal of this training is to help us be aware of implicit bias we bring into the situation, learn skills for focusing on positive behaviors and deflecting challenging behaviors, and begin seeing how we can detect and celebrate the strengths of the students we serve.

Weekly presence. Volunteers commit to being a weekly presence in daytime classrooms to support the existing curriculum. We always follow the teacher’s lead; we are there to provide extra eyes, hands, ears, and inspiration in the classroom. With the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to be nimble and patient as we follow whatever guidelines are in place at the school to manage risks. Many students at Murray are not old enough to be vaccinated, so it is reasonable to expect that high-quality face masks will be required and there will be site-specific policies for contract tracing and/or quarantining when positive cases occur.

Reflection. Volunteers commit to participating in regular peer-led reflection activites, in addition to the time spent working with students. At Murray, we'll see all sorts of new things, and the chance to reflect on them and share what we've learned and seen with others working in the school is an important part of our commitment to the process. You'll be assigned to a reflection group that meets weekly; participation in at 50% of the sessions is expected.

Coordination. Volunteers commit to participating in coordination and feedback sessions with teachers staff at Murray Middle School. These sessions will be infrequent and short, but communication is key!

At around the 6-week mark, volunteers will be given the option of expanding their commitment and moving into a mentoring relationship with a specific student -- more details will be provided at the time.  

End-of-semester. Volunteers also commit to being present after the University of Minnesota semester ends, until the Murray semester ends -- Fall semester at Murray ends in mid-January; Spring semester ends in early June. If the end of the U's semester means you need to leave town, staying in touch digitally is an option!

How to sign up

Fill out the form linked below.


Contact Cheryl Olman, caolman (at) umn.edu, if you have any questions.

What to expect after signing up

Once you've filled out the form, you'll get an email from Cheryl letting you know you've been added to the Classroom Partners Canvas site, where you'll find the information you need to do the Safety of Minors training and background checks.

Cheryl will then pass along your contact and schedule information to the administrative team at Murray Middle School, who will provide training, classroom assignments, student mentoring matches, supervision, and feedback.