George Washington Carver High School for the Sciences (GWCHSS) employs an online platform of videos and resources that reflect the cultural experiences of young Black and Latino males. GWCHSS has found that this content is critical to recreating culturally-relevant educational connections among its targeted student population. School Advisors begin by watching the videos with students. Each video features a teen’s true experience about the challenges that Black and Latino male students face.
In this video, when he was 12, George Kolonias joined a gang. At age 14, he was selling drugs. At 17, it was guns. Then one day federal agents pulled up behind his car. At age 17, George was facing thirty-six years behind bars.
His story is repeated a million times in the cities of America, where kids like George get stuck in a web of gangs, drugs, violence and crime. Feeling hopelessness, kids make decisions that imperil their future because they don’t think they have one.
Yet today George Kolonias has a good job, a community college degree, and he’s about to take the state exam to become a licensed general contractor. What made him change? George got out of prison and got a second chance. Along with a mentor who inspired him to see and experience a different future.
Online correlated Weekly Guides enable GWCHSS Advisors to quickly review and facilitate lesson plans, which include discussion prompts, self-reflection questions and student activities. GWCHSS has found that the Connect with Kids peer-to-peer model helps improve school climate and increase positive student behavior.
Discussion and Self-Reflection Questions
- George Kolonias got a second chance. Have you ever felt like you needed a second chance?
- What qualities do you think are important to be mentor? If you could select a mentor, in real life or not, who would it be? Why?
- Think of experiences and success you have had. Who might you be a mentor to?
- Who believes in you?
One definition of mentor is “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.” Perhaps there is a mentor for you right within our school hallways.
To begin this process, complete the attached Mentor Me worksheet. Make a list of just what you would like a mentor to help you achieve (like build your technology skills or recommend books or articles to help you learn to read for pleasure). Remember that mentors are supposed to help you learn how to do things not doing things for you. Then list what you pledge to do to build the relationship (like to show up on time for sessions together and complete suggested tasks). Then make a list of people who you might approach to develop that mentor relationship.
Think about how you will talk about this opportunity with your selected mentor. Keep in mind the following skills that people often use during job interviews:
- Make eye contact. Looking people straight in the eye shows confidence.
- Body language is important. Stand up straight and walk with confidence. Crossing your arms can make you look defensive. Avoid fidgeting.
- Practice the conversation with a friend. Try out what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. Come up with questions that are good conversation starters. You might even want to make an appointment in advance to arrange a good time to talk with your selected teacher, coach or counselor.