High schoolers, mentors make perfect match

Students learn in University City High School’s computer lab. — PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

The high school–real life pipeline has been strengthened, and thanks to Management & Environmental Technologies, Inc., more than 90 University City High School first-year students will be better prepared for the future that awaits them.

MET has teamed with University City High School for its successful mentor program, which prepares ninth-graders for a more responsible and demanding life by pairing them with mentors and coaches; MET will celebrate this year’s graduates with its awards ceremony and brunch at UCHS on Saturday at 10 a.m.

“This year, over 90 University City High School youth received mentor program training, job preparation and coaching,” said MET president and program manager Dr. Brenda Mitchell, in a statement released by her office. “After completing enrollment applications, and parent consent forms are returned, students are then eligible for coaches and matched with community adult volunteer mentors who have received government clearance.

“MET has been involved with several West Philadelphia schools since 2006,” Dr. Mitchell continued. “Afterschool programs MET has implemented include mentoring, computer literacy, IT certification, computer repair and refurbishing, job preparation, career exposure and summer job placement services.

“We are concerned with building bridges of opportunity for our youth through our partnerships.”

The locally-based MET, founded in 1993 by Corrie N. Mitchell, is a women/minority owned contracting business which provides consultations and services for a varied base of program managers, including welfare to work initiatives, empowerment zone operators and other organizations. And it’s that attention to detail that has made the program such a success, University City High School Principal Tim Stults said.

“I support the program because I have seen the effects that positive mentoring can have on the development of our students,” Stults said. “Sometimes when we look back at our developmental years, we forget that we all had positive role models and mentors in our lives that helped us to make better decisions and see life outside of our perspective. Our students need the same examples of care and encouragement.”

So far, MET’s mentoring program has reached 125 students in its six years of operating in Philadelphia schools. Family therapist Dr. Janon Berry assists MET with recruiting adults, and UCHS assistant principal Rich Mitchell (no relation to Dr. Brenda Mitchell) sees the positive effects the program and the adults involved has on his students.

“The mentor program has given students an adult from the school and community to trust,” Mitchell said. “The mentors support the students academically, emotionally and socially. The activities and programs keep students engaged in the school, and the program has improved school climate and culture.

“It has really helped make the transition to high school much easier for ninth-grade students.”

The MET mentoring program will run through June 2013, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. And while there is no guarantee of future funding, Dr. Mitchell believes the merits and successes of the mentoring program will go a long way in securing said funding. But if the criteria is enriching the lives of youth and preparing them for high school and the rigors of young adulthood, then Stults believes the program has already proved its worth.

“I have seen [students] develop relationships with adults that they would not have before the mentoring relationship. I have seen them make better decisions in and out of the classroom all because an adult chose to show their care,” Stults said. “College entrance and matriculation rates rise. High school and college graduation rates rise.

“The bottom line is that mentoring can have a positive impact on every aspect of a school’s program.”


Contact staff writer Damon C. Williams at (215) 893-5745 or dwilliams@phillytrib.com.

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