“I am a big advocate of mentoring because I grew up in the same populations I now serve. I know their struggle and can honestly say without my mentor, my life could have been completely different”
– Joshua Sharpe, Expanded Learning Coordinator, Community Mentor serving Eccleston Elementary
Studies show mentoring promotes positive self-esteem and encourages children to maintain a better attitude toward school and at home. January is National Mentoring Month – the perfect time to shine a light on Central Florida mentors making a difference for students in this community.
At Eccleston Elementary, A Community Partnership School, a former Community Partnership School mentee and his mentor are paying it forward, encouraging students to make strides toward academic and emotional growth. In short, they are shaping the next generation of students, helping them realize their full potential.
Joshua Sharpe, graduate of Evans High School, A Community Partnership School is building bridges to success for Central Florida youth through the mentoring program at Eccleston Elementary.
Joshua is a graduate of Evans High School, A Community Partnership School and a former member of an all-male class of 25 students – half of which were under-performing academically and at risk of not graduating. Joshua and his classmates were each matched with a mentor that met together twice a month, providing them with positive role models to encourage making good choices, healthy living, responsibility, respect and achievement.
“I had two mentors in high school and they really showed consistency – it kept our spirits up and it built trust, said Joshua. “I got to spend time outside of school going out to eat, attending church – it was really nice to be a part of another family outside of my own.”
Not only were Joshua and his classmates mentees, they were required to participate as mentors for local elementary students.
Four years later, all 25 male students graduated on time and were accepted to a four year university. Now, Joshua hopes to make the same impact on the students he serves today as the Expanded Learning Coordinator at Eccleston Elementary.
“Technically, I have been mentoring since 9th grade – I started by helping local elementary kids with their homework, challenging them – they like to be competitive, so we did things to keep them inspired, said Joshua. “Now, I have kids who weren’t interested in mentoring join us every week. One student walks his sister home and walks back to participate – he didn’t want to be a part of this before and that’s growth!”
Joshua’s all-male class was led by Jarvis Wheeler – a former student, teacher and Community Partnership School Director at Evans High School.
“This was the greatest work of my life. When I was Joshua’s teacher, I was an administrator for the HUB at Evans, I put systems in place and I was able to connect with influencers within the community that would allow us to afford these kids with opportunities they couldn’t have,” says Wheeler.
Today, Wheeler is the Senior Statewide Director of Community Partnership Schools at CHS and he participates as a mentor at Eccleston Elementary, making the Community Partnership School mentoring experience full-circle.
“It has been so rewarding to me to watch Joshua grow into the young man he is today and to have the privilege to be on the same team as him,” said Wheeler. “To see the educational, upward mobility and economic upward mobility – and the service of me giving to him as a student, now he can pay it forward.”
“Even more so, I can come in as a volunteer with his kids and his program and it is just a multiplying effect and impact! When I started out in this work, I would’ve never thought it would create opportunities like this – and it is better than I could’ve ever imagined!”
Mentoring is a key focus of the community partnership schools™ model to improve student attendance, behavior and course performance. Eccleston Elementary is one of four Community Partnership Schools in Orange County — a unique partnership among Children’s Home Society of Florida, Orange Blossom Family Health, Orange County Public Schools, Second Harvest Food Bank and University of Central Florida.
Together, core partners focus on removing tough barriers to learning by bringing together high-quality academics, health care, counseling, support, mentoring and more— right on-site at the school.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor at Eccleston Elementary, A Community Partnership School, contact Joshua Sharpe at Joshua.Sharpe@chsfl.org