About the Program
On Friday, May 30th, Queens Vocational and Technical High School held their “Mentoring Closing Ceremony”. During the school year teachers and administrators “adopted” young men in the 9th grade and mentored them. The mentors would meet with the mentees regularly to see how they were academically and socially. The young men agreed that having teachers and administrators as a mentor helped tremendously during this crucial transitional year. The staff members who participated also expressed a different and closer connection with these young men this year as opposed to previous classes.
Johan Diaz is a 15 year old freshman who was matched with the dean, journalism teacher and the baseball coach, Mr. Schimenz. Johan was born in the Dominican Republic and migrated to the US when he was 7 years old. He spoke no English and was always shy. That shyness stayed with him as he entered high school at Queens Vocational. As a result of the ESI mentoring program, Johan met a number of friends that he says he would have never met had it not been for the program.
Mr. Schimenz has been a teacher for 18 years at Queens Vocational and Technical HS and he describes himself as “tough” and “a bit rough around the edges”. Being a mentor to Johan however, helped “soften him up”. As he put it, “Johan taught me more than I probably taught him.” Mr. Schimenz has a renewed sense of commitment after 18 years and is looking forward to being a mentor to a new student in the fall.