The Meadowlark Initiative began in the 2020 school year. Mr. John Arthur, who is known by his students as ‘Captain’, and UCLI have teamed up each year to provide mentoring to his sixth grade class. UCLI attorneys and law students are paired with sixth grade students from the class. Each Friday mentors and students meet via Zoom. Captain briefly explains the writing assignment the students have been working on, and then attorneys and students are sent to breakout rooms to work one-on-one to help improve writing skills. There are different topics every week. They may be given writing prompts like “Was it fair that women and children were given priority as the Titanic was sinking?”, or are given assignments like writing engaging and informative autobiographical essays. We are excited to aid Captain, who was designated the 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year, in his enthusiasm and vision for his students’ learning. The hope for the mentoring is to help the students build confidence and dream big for their lives as they transition into junior high school. It also provides the opportunity for these students to meet and be mentored by attorneys who are friendly and genuinely care about their success. For many of these students the mentoring is the first chance they’ve had to talk to attorneys.
Meadowlark Elementary is located in the Rose Park neighborhood of Salt Lake City and nearly 75% of the students are from a diverse background. Each year approximately 25-35 attorneys and law students participate as mentors. The commitment is minimal- 30 minutes on most Fridays during the school year – yet incredibly impactful. In letters to their mentors, students shared the following sentiments:
“You increased my writing. Now my writing skills are better than ever! I also want to be like you when I grow up and I know what I want that to look like.”
“Thank you for helping me with my writing. I really like talking to you about the projects we did in class. Writing was hard at first, but then you helped me a lot and it got easier! I am a better student thanks to your help.”
“Captain chose me you to me because I’m speaking Spanish and now I write you a letter in English! Thank you for everything you helped me in what I did not understand.”
Recruiting for each school year runs from August through September. If you are interested please contact UCLI Associate Director, Jon Wayas at . Everyone is welcome. However, there is extra need and opportunity for mentors who speak Spanish.
Check out this 2022 video of Captain and a handful of the incredible UCLI Meadowlark volunteer mentors here.