January is #NationalMentoringMonth, and to celebrate we’re sharing the stories of local mentors who are helping to guide the next generation. In this guest blog, Patrick Gannon – a #True2U mentor working with Cleveland Metropolitan School District 8th graders – shares his perspective on why mentoring matters.
I first became interested in mentoring during my time working as a Cleveland police officer. Through that experience, I witnessed firsthand the struggles facing those who live in poverty. It became immediately apparent that education is critically important to breaking the cycle of poverty, and how fortunate I am to have been provided a good education. Thinking back to my experience growing up, I remember being exposed to a wide range of occupations through neighbors and friends, in addition to the guidance I received from my parents. I was looking for an opportunity to give back when I heard about the True2U program through my employer, KeyBank. I was very pleased to find out that the True2U program works to provide guidance, exposure to occupations, and helps students identify their strengths to create a plan to achieve their goals. When I learned that KeyBank would allow me to be a mentor during the workday, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass by.
Now in my third year of mentoring, the part I enjoy most is spending time with the students to help them identify their strengths and interests, and introducing them to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s “School Choice” Program. This program allows students to choose high schools that focus on specific areas such as STEM, the arts, and business. The students get so excited looking through all of the schools, and learning more about the various programs that align with their strengths and career interests. That is the moment when everything clicks. The students finally understand why we spent time taking personality assessments and exploring the wide variety of careers. They are empowered to begin making a plan that will lead them to their goals, and they understand the importance of choosing a school that will help them reach those goals.
True2U is the spark that gets the students to start dreaming about their future, and the program helps them find their direction to start creating a plan that will get them there. Through alignment in the “School Choice” program, the students can build a roadmap that will get them the education they need to take them where they want to go. That is why I volunteer with True2U.
Are you interested in helping local students navigate their path to high school and beyond? Apply to become a True2U mentor for the 2018-19 school year! Learn more about the benefits of becoming a mentor, and how you can apply, by contacting Molly Feghali at Neighborhood Leadership Institute by phone at (216) 812-8700 or via email.