Seniors continue leading middle school students with learning disabilities to see their full potential

By Hallie Underwood’20

Last year, an Eye to Eye chapter was brought to Columbus. With new chapter leaders this year who have a week-long intensive under their belts, Senior Caroline Pirowitz and Christian Brunton are ready to mentor middle school students with learning disabilities.

Interviewer: What exactly is Eye to Eye? Why did you decide to bring it to the high school

Caroline: Eye to Eye is a national nonprofit project-based mentoring organization that pairs up high schoolers with learning disabilities and/or ADHD and middle schoolers who are similarly labeled to promote self-esteem, self-advocacy and to create a strong LD community. Basically every week for an hour after school we make art projects with different LD themes. It’s a fun way to talk about things that are often seen as taboo scary subjects in an LD preteen’s eyes. The UA chapter was actually started last year by Molly O’Connor and Harry Baker. Chris

tian and I were mentors last year. Because Molly and Harry were graduating, there had to be new chapter leaders selected. I loved the philosophy of the organization and despite the fact that our art room didn’t necessarily flourish last year, it was still a lot of fun. A couple of us applied to be chapter leaders

and after the application process and an interview, I got an email saying that Christian and I were selected. I think it’s great that Harry and Molly brought this to UA. Eye to Eye allows us to be the mentors that we never had. I wish that I had something like eye to eye when I was in middle school.

I: Why did you prepare over the summer for the upcoming year in this club?

C: Being a chapter leader is a lot of work. We had many phone calls with Cole, our NPC (National Program Coordinator) in order to prepare for our trip to the OI. The OI (formally, the young leaders organizing institute) was an intensive week-long training program at Brown University. They flew Christian and I out in August (all expenses paid by the way). It was the best experience of my life. There we built our leadership skills and learned how to run the art rooms. We sat in lectures and listened to talks and participated in activities and workshops. And although it was a lot of work, it was a lot of fun. Christian and I made some amazing friends from all over the country and learned so much. After the OI, our mentor/mentee recruitment began as soon as the school did. We made an Instagram while we were at the OI to advertise the organization a little more (because last year barely anyone knew the program existed in UA). It is a big responsibility to run a chapter but the OI one hundred percent prepared us for what is to come.

I: What does this chapter plan to do moving forward?

C: Well we are currently working on recruiting mentors and we are pretty much done with that (we have to cap off how many mentors we have in order to not have too large of an art room). Luckily many of our mentors from last year are returning. We are in communication with Hastings, our mentee school, and we are working on recruiting kids there as well. Our first art room is later in September (the 22nd). We are currently preparing for that. But in terms of the program this year, we will be following our art room curriculum and making amazing projects. We are gonna have a lot of fun this
year. It’s gonna be a revamped version of last year.

I: When do you plan on meeting? How can someone interested get involved?

C: We have our two-hour mentor training September 19th and then our art rooms will be after school on Wednesdays at Hastings. If people want to get involved, I recommend they reach out to Christian or I via email, text or DM. They can check out the Eye to Eye website to see how to get involved as well. To become a mentor, you have to apply and be selected and to be a mentor you have to have an LD and/or ADHD which means not everyone can join. To be a mentee the same applies in terms of requirements you must have an LD and/or ADHD and you have to attend HMS. For those looking to be a mentee, I recommend reaching out to an intervention specialist at the middle school, specifically Amy Frecker, one of the school sponsors.