On March 14th, eighth graders did what many adults do every morning — they headed off to work. Some students took the subway or walked, while others experienced a commute by car to New Jersey. Once they arrived at their destinations, it was time to learn about their chosen career from a mentor.
Mentor Day is an annual tradition at Manhattan Country School. It allows for students to spend a few hours at the workplaces of alumni and friends of the MCS community. Mentors expose students to their own professions; give a sense of what they do, share personal experiences and help the students to make informed career decisions.
This year, the following MCS alumni, parents, trustees, and friends generously shared their expertise as mentors in the following career categories:
- Acting: Alan Altschuler, MCS Parent and Trustee
- Psychology: Dr. Elizabeth Berger
- Music: Ezra Gale ’85 and Marika Hughes ‘85
- Animal Medical Care: Erika Gibson ’86
- Midwifery: Rochelle Lipshutz
- Filmmaking: Anastas Michos
- Journalism: Gabe Miller ’71
- Art: Paulo Rivera
- Website Development: Elin Waring, MCS Parent and Trustee
The eighth graders were split into groups based on their own career interests. Here are some of their reflections on Mentor Day:
Cara E. hoped to learn how to travel by herself on Mentor Day. “I got to walk through the park!” Also, she found it really interesting that her mentor, Dr. Elizabeth Berger, is the mother-in-law of Kristen Berger, our history teacher. “It was funny because everywhere I looked there were photos of Kristen. I loved the match. She was very interesting and unexpected.”
It was a thrill for Bradley to meet Elin Waring, a web guru and former president of Open Source Matters. “Everyone should look forward to Mentor Day because it’s awesome! I learned about coding and website design. I thought it was the perfect match.”
Jamie met Paulo Rivera, a Marvel Comics-exclusive artist, and became interested in the illustrating process of comic books. “I’m interested in the arts and never thought about comic books. I learned about anatomy and how it’s applied in comic arts. Also, it was awesome to see the originals that he made.”
Mikah, William, Cara J. and Becca recorded a song and talked shop with musicians Ezra Gale and Marika Hughes. Becca said, “being a musician is really fun and can be managed if you discipline yourself.” Cara J. and William enjoyed the experience of meeting professionals in the music industry and Mikah discovered that “creating music doesn’t just pop into your mind, you need patience.”
HG and Rebecca shadowed Gabe Miller, a copy chief at Sports Illustrated, and gushed about their visit to their classmates. “He asked us about MCS, told us about what it was like when he was here, and how it made him a different person.” Rebecca added, “his job is so cool! And HG went in an elevator — up 31 floors!” HG urged upcoming eighth graders to “choose something interesting” for Mentor Day. “I had a great time!”
Budding filmmaker Stefan was excited to spend the morning with cinematographer Anastas Michos. “I visited Technicolor and Panavision, two major film companies, and finally got to study more in-depth technology,” he said.
Khalil, Camrin, Oni, Altana visited an animal hospital in New Jersey with Erika Gibson, a veterinary neurologist. “I learned how animals are treated and how humans can help them. I also learned a lot about animal surgery,” Oni said. Getting a better understanding of the various jobs at the hospital was important to Camrin. “I learned what the jobs of a neurologist, cardiologist and oncologist involve and require as well as how surgery on animals are performed. I loved going there! It was informational and educational.”
Kyle, Sophie and Kai toured two theater spaces with Alan Altschuler, who is currently starring in a “Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the West End Theater.
Kai realized “theater is a hard business to crack into, but it’s worthwhile. I gained a new first-person perspective and the inside secrets.” Sophie hoped to understand the “struggles of being an actor and how you work with those struggles.” Kyle saw a different side of acting. “It was more realistic. I learned it’s competitive and met someone else in acting other than my grandmother.”
In the afternoon, they all returned to MCS for a pizza party hosted by Upper School Director Maiya Jackson and Communications Coordinator Corris Little. Students also wrote letters of thanks to their mentors. When asked what advice they’d give to the upcoming 8th grade class, there were a variety of answers. “Keep an open mind. … Be open to who you get. … Cherish and keep with you the things that you learn while you’re here, especially if it relates to what kind of job you want to do in your life. … Trust your teachers when they say that mentor day is awesome!”
A very special thanks to Flannery, Maiya, Akemi, Corris, the mentors and everyone who helped make Mentor Day educational and inspiring.
To host an MCS student on Mentor Day 2013, please contact Corris Little, Communications Coordinator, at email@example.com