Monday, October 27, 2008

Final Reflections

The Navajo Pine High School students visiting Amherst reflected on their trip. The verdict?

"Life changing!"


"It opened me up to a world of careers!"

"Thank you all!

"I'm so happy I came on this trip. I had so much fun!"

"I love Reader to Reader!"

"It was sooo much fun!"

“You changed me inside and out!”

Thank you David White and Exclusive Car Service for donating the comfy ride to the airport!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Enjoying Fall in New England

Is there any better way to see the fall foliage than the beautiful view of the Connecticut River Valley from the Summit House at the top of Mount Holyoke?

The Navajo Mentoring Program students finished up their visit to New England by enjoying panoramic views and taking lots of pictures including this group photo.

Yes, we call these itty bitty things mountains!

At just under 1,000 feet Mount Holyoke comes up a bit short compared to New Mexico’s Wheeler Peak, which tops out at 13,161 feet. But you can a great view of Amherst, Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield, Massachusetts. There is also New Hampshire's Mount Monadnock to the north and Mount Greylock to the west.

Lots and lots of smiles!

What a great way to finish our visit!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Room Full of Inspiration!

The Amherst College Athletics Department gave the Navajo Mentoring Program students a fantastic, inspirational morning focused on the role of sports in a college career.

After a warm introduction, Assistant Athletic director Billy McBride took us on a tour of the facilities, including showing the students the weight room.

Fitness isn't just for athletes he pointed out. Then it was time for a group discussion. NCAA National Champion men’s basketball coach, David Hixon, shared his coaching insights.

They also got terrific advice from volleyball and softball coach Sue Everden, track coach Erik Nedeau, and women’s basketball coach G.P. Gromacki.

It was a very motivating, inspiring morning. After all, they are in the motivation business!

A very special thanks to Assistant Athletic Director Billy McBride and Athletic Director Suzanne Coffey for organizing the gathering.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Exploring the Robotics Lab

The Navajo Mentoring Program students got to see the latest in cutting-edge robots when they visited the Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics at the University of Massachusetts.

The Lab studies “computational systems that solve sensory and motor problems. Experimental platforms include sensor networks, mobile manipulators, and integrated bimanual humanoids. Current projects focus on dexterous, force-guided manipulation, knowledge representations grounded in closed-loop interaction, human-robot interaction and communication, and computational models for learning and development.”

The students not only got to see groundbreaking work in robotics but also saw how the study of robotics begins by watching first year students learning to build very basic robots.

Talking to the Press

The Navajo Mentoring Program student visit to Amherst drew a lot of press attention, including the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the Springfield Republican, and WGGB-TV 40. By the end of the visit the students had become old hands at being interviewed.

Here Kyle Clark is interviewed by Springfield Republican reporter Diane Lederman.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cheering on the Celtics!

It was a dream team-up that made a dream come true! The defending NBA champion Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers were on the same side when it came to the Navajo Mentoring Program. The two teams teamed up to donate tickets so the visiting students could attend their first NBA game.

The students loved every minute of the game. They cheered like old pros.

Time for a Slice of Antonio’s Pizza

No college student in the Amherst area can live for long without a slice of Antonio’s Pizza. It seems to rank right up there with air.

The Navajo Mentoring Program students got to find their own favorite slices, with pineapple and ham seeming to compete with BBQ chicken and the taco pizza as favorites.

Now they really know about college life!

Learning About Web Design

One of the presentations that most captivated the students in the Navajo Mentoring Program was Howard Hanna’s inside look at the world of Internet Web design.

The students got a hands on presentation where they learned about the HTML code that makes Web sites function. The presentation was scheduled for 45 minutes but ran twice as long because the students were completely enthralled. Several students loved the presentation so much that they want to become Web designers.

A special thanks to Howard Hanna for an amazing look inside the Internet.

Touring a College Campus

There’s nothing more perfect than a beautiful fall day to tour a college campus.

The Navajo Mentoring Program students learned about campus life at a small New England college when their reading mentor, Kathryn Libby, gave them a tour of the Amherst College campus.

The students also spent time on the campus of the University of Massachusetts, which offered them a contrasting look at the atmosphere of a big university.

The Amherst College tour took them across the main Quadrangle, through the library, dining hall, into classrooms, and the Campus Center. The tour finished with a visit to Libby’s dorm room, where they discussed the process of choosing and living with a roommate.

Getting a Charge Out of Laser Tag

The Navajo Mentoring Program students finished up the day having some fun playing Laser Tag.

The students particularly relished a round that featured their teachers, Reader to Reader staff, and the reading mentors versus the students.

The students won handily.

Even Navajo Pine High School Principal Henry Henderson got in the action!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Inside Northfire Recording Studio

The staff of Northfire Recording Studio took the Navajo Mentoring Program students into the world of 192-track recording. The state of the art studio has produced albums for groups such as The Alchemystics, Leah Randazzo, and Loose Caboose, to name a few.

The Northfire staff spent over two hours showing the students the technology that goes into modern sound recording and talking about the career of sound engineer. They also learned about the business side of financing and running a studio.

The students got their own turn at the piano, percussion, and singing into the microphone, and then watched and listened as the sound engineers digitally looped the recording and manipulated it to shape the sound into many different forms.

Our thanks to the staff of Northfire Studio for such an educational experience.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

When Giants Roamed the Earth

The Navajo Mentoring Program team explored life in the Connecticut River Valley hundreds of millions of years ago with a visit to Amherst College’s Museum of Natural History.

The beautiful, new, glass-fronted building is the fifth generation of natural history museums at Amherst College and features free standing fossil skeletons of a mammoth, mastodon, dire wolf, saber-toothed cat, Irish Elk and cave bear. It also features skulls of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The World of TV News

WGGB-TV Channel 40 morning anchor Faye Hoffman took time on her day off to give the Navajo Mentoring Program students an in-depth tour of the TV station.

She detailed the many jobs that are required to put together a newscast, both on camera and behind-the-scenes. Here she shows the green screen that is used for the weather report.

Hoffman explained her own journey from high school in eastern Washington to Washington State University and into the world of broadcast journalism.

The students learned the key role that internships play in launching your career as Hoffman detailed how her summer internship at KNDO-TV in Yakima, Washington helped land her first job at a small station in Twin Falls, Idaho. The students also learned about the passion, drive and determination it takes to succeed in a highly competitive business.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sushi was a hit!

Knives were flashing, flames were leaping, shrimp were flying through the air (tossed by the chef) and people were laughing.

The Navajo Mentoring Program students had their first ever taste of sushi and Japanese food as they delighted in the high energy, full sensory experience at Arigato Japanese Steakhouse.

There were a few nervous looks when the sushi was brought out. The consensus? Sushi was a hit!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Exploring the Magic Behind the Stage

The Navajo Mentoring Program students explored Amherst College’s Theatre Department, learning about the many jobs that go on behind the scenes in order to put on a play.

Jonathan Doyle and the staff of the Theatre Department explained that it takes five weeks to build the sets for a student production. They took the students through the computerized production drawings, model building, and the set building process. They also learned about lighting design and how each of the staff had gone from high school, to college, and into their career.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Navajo students find possibilities

(Andrea A. Albert, left, and Dakota Thomas, both 15, look through books in the Reader to Reader Inc. office in the Cadigan Center for Religious Life at Amherst College earlier this week. The girls are part of a group of eight students from the Navajo Pine School in Navajo, N. M., who are visiting Western Massachusetts.)

Springfield Republican
Sunday, October 12, 2008

AMHERST - They live in a community of less than 2,000 people and virtually everyone who lives there is Navajo like them.

Their town of Navajo, N.M., has a supermarket and gas station, two schools, a church, day-care center, fire department and that's about it, according to 16-year-old Bettina Kinlichinie.

While Kinlichinie and the seven other students were a little apprehensive about boarding a plane and traveling 2,300 miles to a place they had never seen, what awaited them in places like Springfield, Hadley and Amherst has been "life changing," she said.

Kinlichinie and her friends were brought here this week by Reader To Reader Inc., which began a mentoring program with these students and Amherst College about a year ago, said David S. Mazor, Reader to Reader Inc., founding executive director. The students and their college counterparts read the same books and discussed them online. Amherst College mentors visited the Navajo students in May, he said.

On their five day trip, the high school students visited such places as the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Amherst College's Mead Art Museum, sat in at a session at the Springfield Housing Court and met with Judge Dina E. Fein and attorney Myles Jacobson. They also went behind the scenes of the Amherst College Theater Department.

"They don't have a lot of opportunity," Mazor said. "The graduation rates are very low." The idea was to bring them here to introduce them to people in all types of careers, so it "would give them a reason to stay in school. "We wanted to connect them with (people who have) the passion they have for their careers."

Kyle S. Clark, 17, is a junior who recently moved from Navajo to Albuquerque, to attend a city school. The others on the trip still attend Navajo Pine High School.

Clark enjoyed observing Springfield Housing Court and learned that to be a judge, "you don't have to be a lawyer. That was really interesting," he said.

At court he talked to Jacobson about law. He never had the chance to talk one on one with a lawyer before. Clark said the talk is "going to make me work harder. It's going to make me pursue my dream."

Meeting Amherst College Assistant Athletic Director Billy T. McBride and the other stable of Amherst College coaches, helped Clark realize he can be a better basketball player "if I set my mind to it. That gave me some confidence."

Kinlichinie, a junior, particularly enjoyed a session on Web design with Amherst College Web developer Howard J. Hanna.

"Before, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to go into," she said.

While Mazor founded Reader to Reader Inc. about six years ago to provide books free of charge to needy school libraries and public libraries across the United States, it was through that program he found the need in this community transcended that.

He did a lot of fund-raising to bring the students here and was aided by Amherst College and places such as Whole Foods in Hadley and the Pub here, which provided free meals.

Reader to Reader is holding a fund-raiser Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. at the 19th annual Children's Illustration Exhibition at Michelson Gallery in Northampton, an event that is honoring author Norton Juster.

In addition, Reader to Reader is trying to raise money to bring the eight Navajo students back for a month next summer. Those wishing to donate to that venture may send a check to Reader To Reader, Inc. c/o Cadigan Center, 38 Woodside Ave., Amherst, MA 01002. Donors should mark it for the Navajo Pine High School project.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reader To Reader on TV!

Watch ABC Channel 40-TV’s feature on Chef Bill Collin’s fantastic cooking class with the students in the Navajo Mentoring Program. A very big thank you to Chef Bill for donating his time and expertise and to Whole Foods Market in Hadley for the mountain of food.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Exploring the Art Museum

Our visiting Navajo Mentoring program students explored the world of art at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.

Educator Christine Pagliav started us off by taking us back in time over 3,000 years as she explained what the museum knows and doesn’t know about its ancient Assyrian Reliefs.

The students then explored the works of great artists, including Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Monet, and Rubens.

We discussed the various styles; the precision of the realist paintings and the texture of the impressionist works.

For all the students this was their first time in an art museum. They all said it wouldn’t be their last.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thought Provoking, Informative and Delicious!

The second day of our Navajo Pine High School student visit to Amherst was amazing.

We started our day with a fascinating discussion with noted screenwriter Daniel Giat; the Emmy-nominated writer of the HBO movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

They discovered the passion of the writer to bring a personal vision to life on the screen.

The students engaged in a provocative and thought provoking discussion on making Native American films historically accurate in the context of Hollywood and the entertainment world.

Next up was learning about the legal profession from lawyer Myles Jacobson. Attorney Jacobson took the students into the courtroom where they not saw the court in action but met the judge when she came down from the bench and spent time talking with the students.

Time for dinner!

Tonight’s menu, Chicken Cacciatore, green beans, a heavenly salad, and an apple compote served over ice cream, all cooked by Chef Bill Collins and the students.

Chef Bill taught an inspiring, engaging and absolutely delicious cooking class, taking the students into the world of the culinary arts.

What an amazing day!

Our special thanks for the donation of time and wisdom from Daniel Giat, Myles Jacobson and Chef Bill Collins. They really gave from the heart to these students.

And a very special thanks to Whole Foods in Hadley for hosting our group and donating hundreds of dollars of food.


Monday, October 6, 2008

The Adventure Begins

8:00am at Emily’s Bed and Breakfast in Amherst, MA. Time to start our day.

The first day of our Navajo Pine High School student visit to Amherst was quite an adventure. Our goals: Experience a bit of New England; learn about an interesting career, and have some fun on a gorgeous fall day.

The students started their day learning about broadcast journalism from Faye Hoffman, the morning anchorwoman at Channel 40 TV.

Then we headed to the Basketball Hall of Fame where the students explored the interactive exhibits. We had a very interesting group discussion on the kind of drive you need to be a journalist or a Hall of Fame basketball player. Hmm, that seems to be a theme!

Then we were off to Six Flags New England for another theme: Life has to be fun!

We finished our day with a fabulous dinner at The Pub in Amherst. We ate until we were bursting!

We thank Channel 40 TV for donating their time, The Basketball Hall of Fame for giving us free tours and the fabulous lunch from Max’s, and The Pub for generously donating an incredible dinner.

Now on to day two!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Navajo Pine Students Arrive in Amherst

Navajo Pine High School students have arrived in Amherst after a long day flying from New Mexico. The students will be spending a very exciting week learning about college life and a host of careers that come from going to college. The trip is a part of Reader To Reader’s Navajo Mentoring Program, which works with students on the Navajo Reservation.

Here they settle into their bed and breakfast and enjoy some midnight pizza. The pizza drew a thumbs up.

The students all agreed one thing; they are ready for an adventure.

First thing in the morning they will be up and running visiting Channel 40 TV in Springfield to learn about broadcast journalism. Then they will head to the Basketball Hall of Fame followed by Six Flags New England. They will finish it with a dinner at The Pub Restaurant in Amherst.

Now that’s an exciting day!

P.S. Three cheers for Exclusive Car Service for donating airport pickup in their cushy limo bus.