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By Jimmie Smith, Director of the Learning Effectiveness Program, University of Denver

Eye to Eye, founded 20 years ago, is a national mentoring program that pairs college and high school students with learning differences with middle school students that have similar learning differences.  The curriculum is a social-emotional project based curriculum designed to build self- esteem, value unique minds, and inspire students to advocate for their needs.  The goal of Eye to Eye is to unlock potential by supporting, empowering, and celebrating students with learning differences and ADHD.  The curriculum model used by Eye to Eye includes:

  1. Near-Peer Mentoring
  2. Art-Based Projects to Develop Social-Emotional Learning
  3. Events to Build Community
  4. Campaigns to Raise Awareness and Reduce Stigmas.

At the University of Denver we are fortunate to have on our Learning Effectiveness Program staff, the Eye to Eye Denver Regional Coordinator, Nathaniel Ellison.  He is responsible for helping schools that want to start an Eye to Eye program find middle schools to host them.  There are eight high schools and colleges in Colorado that have an Eye to Eye mentoring program.  At the University of Denver we have two student coordinators and approximately ten mentors that work with students at a local school on a weekly basis.  The mentors volunteer their time to work with students after school.  Not only is this a self-esteem builder for the younger students, but it is also a great confidence builder for the mentors as it allows them to share their experiences with the younger students.

This year Eye to Eye at University of Denver also hosted a Learn Different Day.  This community event allowed students and families without access to an Eye to Eye program at their schools, the opportunity to experience the Eye to Eye community and curriculum for a day.

Another event that Eye to Eye at the University of Denver sponsors each year in the spring is a Choose Your Own ADDventure Conference.  Approximately 130 people attended this free of charge one-day event open to the community.  Each year we have a guest speaker and this year our speaker was Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, best known for his book “Driven to Distraction”.  This is a joint community effort in which professionals in the field of learning differences volunteer their time to lead breakout sessions on topics of interest to the community.

Eye to Eye is a student led and directed program and has been part of the Learning Effectiveness Program at the University of Denver for the past 13 years.

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