Peer Mentoring Circles for Faculty

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Student Success (CETLSS) is proud to announce our first set of offerings of the Mountaineer Peer Mentoring Circle! 

What is a Peer Mentoring Circle? 

A mentoring circle is made up of a small group of people who meet regularly to discuss specific topics related to their professional development. Similar to group mentoring, it can consist of one mentor and multiple mentees or multiple mentors and mentees. The key difference here is that circle mentorship requires a facilitator. The facilitator takes care of administrative duties (e.g., scheduling, planning meeting topics and formats, communicating with mentees and university stakeholders) and multiple mentees who are usually at similar levels in their careers.

Below are the 2023-2024 Peer Mentoring Circles. If you are interested in joining a peer mentoring circle, please complete this interest form.


2023-2024 Mountaineer Peer Mentoring Circles are: 

Mid-Career Academic Parents of Young Children

Facilitators: Rachel Wilson & Jamie Levine

This peer mentoring circle will focus on navigating the demands of mid-career faculty while simultaneously parenting young children. Mid-career faculty have achieved tenure, so they have some job security, but are faced with decisions about where to focus their time. Parents of young children may face greater difficulties in making these decisions, because of their limited time. Some topics that we may discuss include: work-life harmony, successful time management strategies, future career pathways and possible career trajectories, and how to effectively say NO.

Meeting Pattern & Location: We plan to meet on Fridays at 1pm about every three weeks during September, then once a month. We would like to alternate our meetings between in-person and via zoom. (We will plan spring dates after we know our spring teaching schedules). 

Our fall meeting dates will be: 

Friday, September 8 (in person)

Friday, September 29 (zoom)

Friday, October 20 (in person)

Friday, November 17 (zoom)

Friday, December 1 (in person)

Early-Career Faculty Parent Network (EFPN)

Facilitators: Chris Quattro & Zach Russell

This group is a support network for early-career faculty who have young children at home. It offers an opportunity for members to share their experiences, recommend resources both at App State and in the community, and build relationships with other families. Many early-career faculty are new to Boone or Appalachian State, and this group allows for  community building with families of similar needs and interests. 

The EFPN Peer Support Network offers three methods of connection. First, the group will facilitate monthly lunch hours on campus during the week for members to come together. Second, the group will offer monthly coordinated playdates among the members on weekends, allowing time for families to socialize in child-friendly environments within the community. Third, group members will be added to a designated digital forum that serves as a space to ask questions, share knowledge, and connect with peers. We understand that we have a lot on our plates, but many still want to get engaged. Members may choose the level of involvement and which of these platforms work best for them! This group is supportive of Queer and non-traditional family types.

Planned Meetings (dependent on member schedules and interests, TBD):

  • August – Online forum creation (continuous)
  • September Lunch Hour - weekday
  • September Playdate – weekend
  • October Lunch Hour - weekday
  • October Playdate – weekend
  • November Lunch Hour - weekday
  • November Playdate – weekend

International Mountaineer Faculty (IMF) Peer-Mentoring Circle 

Facilitators: Juhee Woo & Matthew Chidozie Ogwu

IMF aims to bring international faculty (tenure-track and VITAL members) together to share their experiences working and living in the High Country with international backgrounds and provide mentorship to address their unique challenges and foster diversity and inclusion at Appalachian State University.

Meeting Pattern & Location:  In August and September of the fall semester, we will meet every other week. Specific dates/times will be determined after getting feedback from interested members to maximize attendance. Around mid-October, we will slowly transition to monthly meetings, pending the members’ preference. These meetings will be held in person and via Zoom. In-person gatherings will occur in various locations. 

Sustaining Ourselves through Creativity and Nature

Facilitators: Denise Levy & Heather Thorp

Our co-created peer mentoring circle will infuse arts- and nature-based activities to sustain us personally and professionally. Our journey might include creating a shared visual journal, spending time in nature, walking a labyrinth, sharing meals together, creating soul collage cards, making beaded suncatchers, and more. No prior art experience is necessary, just a willingness to play!

Meeting Pattern & Location: We look forward to gathering together outside in nature, in our homes, and in various locations across the high country. Our group will meet in person on the following dates for the fall semester, and we will determine our spring semester dates as a group.

Proposed meeting dates for the fall semester are:

● Tuesday, August 29th, 2:00-3:30pm
● Monday, September 18th, 2:00-3:30pm
● Tuesday, October 10th, 2:00-3:30pm
● Monday, November 13th, 2:00-3:30pm
● Thursday, December 7th, 2:00-3:30pm
Optional gatherings or field trips will also be shared by the facilitators and group
members, and may include attending various events both on and off campus as a

Goal Setting for Your Academic Groove: Turning the Invisible to Visible through Goal Setting, Accountability and Action 

Facilitators: Becki Battista & Joy James

This peer mentoring circle will focus on faculty’s choice of a needed scholarship project (components range from data collection, analysis, manuscript development, grant writing, etc.) for the 2023-2024 academic year. Circle participants will develop goals and attainable objectives for their scholarship project for the academic year. We believe this is an important first step as Tony Robbins states, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible to visible”.  The community will help keep each other accountable as a group by creating accountability mechanisms (buddies, discussions and deadlines) for the individual projects.

Meeting Pattern and Location:  Meetings will occur at the AppState Library, both in person and via Zoom, we will alternate between these meeting types. Initially the focus will be on meeting in person and can shift to adding in Zoom meetings. Meetings will occur once a week beginning the week of August 21st. 

Write, Write, Right! 

Facilitators: Emily Dakin Mike Howell 

In this peer mentoring circle, we will write, continue learning about writing, and build a consistent writing practice that balances with other faculty obligations. Our vision is for a peer mentoring circle with two primary purposes. The first is a weekly “sacred writing hour” together, and the second is to provide a venue for professional development through informal discussion around a variety of topics.  A message we hope to communicate and reinforce as participants establish a regular writing practice is that faculty who engage in scholarship have a right to spend time writing and can claim time in their week to write.

Meeting Pattern & Location:  We plan to have an hour and a half weekly synchronous meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesdays, participants are invited to write in-person at Leon Levine Hall, but may join through Zoom if that would better accommodate their needs for a particular week. The Writing Hour will occur each week from the second week of classes until the week before final grades are due. 

Dates: August 29, September 5, 12, 19, 26, October 3, 10, 24, 31 (Social Event TBA Week of 10/24), November 7, 14, 21, 28, December 12 (Social Event TBA Week of 12/12), January 23, 30, February 6, 13, 20, 27, March 5, 19, 26 (Social Event TBA Week of 3/19), April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, May 7 (Social Event TBA Week of 5/7)

Solo Mountaineers

Facilitators: Jennifer Luetkemeyer & Stacey Garrett

In this peer mentoring circle, we seek to develop community and facilitate a sense of belonging for solo faculty members. As the literature shows for student transitions, the first six weeks of the academic year are the “make or break” weeks that determine if a student will be retained (Elkins, et al., 2000). This is why campus programming is so crucial to helping students find connections to other students and the institution. Parallels exist for faculty and staff. Onboarding studies show that employees should work to integrate into peer groups within the first 30-120 days and develop networks within the organization during the first 90 days (Reese, 2005).  The onboarding process should go beyond the administrative pieces to enhance retention of new faculty members, we believe in a holistic approach to onboard faculty to life in Boone and the high country.

Meeting Pattern & Location:  This group will meet every 2-3 weeks at various locations in Boone and surrounding areas on Fridays and/or Saturdays.  Members of the group may be single, or may have partners living elsewhere. Solo/single parents are welcome, but outings are intended to be child-free events and may not always be “kid-friendly”. This group is not intended to provide community around parenting as an academic. Additionally, the goal is not to form a “singles group”, where folks can find a partner, but more of a space for those living here alone to come together, make friends, and form a community.

Friday, August 18, 2023: 5 p.m. Welcome dinner and drinks at Boone Saloon
Friday, September 8, 2023: 12 p.m. in Zoom
Saturday, September 23, 2023: Watauga Farmer’s Market and lunch
Friday, October 6, 2023: 12 p.m. in Zoom
Friday, October 27, 2023: 4 p.m. AMB
Friday, November 10, 2023: 12 p.m. in Zoom
Friday, December 1, 2023: 5 p.m. local restaurant
Friday, January 26, 2023: 12 p.m. in ZOOM
Saturday, February 10, 2023: ax throwing
Friday, February 23, 2023: 12 p.m. in Zoom
Saturday, March 9, 2023: local hike
Friday, March 22, 2023: 12 p.m. in Zoom
Saturday, April 6, 2023: West Jefferson
Friday, April 19, 2023: 12 p.m. in Zoom
Monday, May 13, 2023: end of semester dinner, local restaurant

Hickory Campus Adventurers

Facilitator: Lillian Nave  and Doug Marrelli

In this peer mentoring circle, we will support each other in teaching and learning about a new endeavor for Appalachian in Hickory. As challenges arise, we will support each other and offer new ideas for a brand new campus. We will discuss our experiences as instructors on a new campus with commuter students who differ from the traditional AppState student. We will support each other and share ideas for how to make our campus, our teaching, and our students successful!

Meeting Pattern & Location: We will meet via Zoom in mutually agreed upon times (day or evening) and if desired can meet face to face on campus for social/meal gatherings. In August and September we will meet every two weeks, and then every three weeks until the end of the term. We will also have a separate asynchronous space to interact with each other to ask questions and keep in touch (such as Asulearn or facebook, or google chat, or groupMe).