Judge speaks at kickoff event for college mentoring program

Philadelphia President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper is among judiciary members, city and school officials who have pledged to serve as mentors in a pilot program for college-bound seniors.

Judges, city government officials and educators are scheduled to turn out Tuesday at Benjamin Franklin High School for the launch of a mentoring program geared for college-bound seniors.

The college mentoring workshop series is intended to provide counselors with additional resources for 12th-grade students working on college admissions applications. It also pairs high school seniors with professionals who can help students navigate the college selection, provide one-on-one support in completing admissions applications and offer professional and career advice. The event is at 8 a.m. at Benjamin Franklin High School.

The pilot program is organized by the Clifford Scott Green chapter of the National Bar Association Judicial Council and some of the biggest names in Philadelphia’s public education system: the School District of Philadelphia, KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy in West Philadelphia and Mastery Charter Schools.

“With recent layoffs and budget cuts to the Philadelphia school district, school counselors are limited in support for students who are interested in furthering their education,” said Jenaye Munford, spokesperson for local judiciary who are members of the minority bar association.

In the wake of chronic funding problems for the city’s public schools, workloads have increased dramatically for counselors who survived budget cuts. And last year, students reported waiting longer for appointments and missing application deadlines because they were unable to make timely appointments.

U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, Judicial Council President Karen Simmons and former Commonwealth Court Judge Doris Smith-Ribner, who was recently named to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans, are scheduled to attend.

Woods-Skipper is a Philadelphia native and graduate of Philadelphia High School for Girls. She also has earned degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University’s School of Law, according to program organizers. Organizers plan to expand the program, which makes its debut at Martin Luther King High School next week. The program is on target to reach more than 200 students, through mid-November.

Contact staff writer Wilford Shamlin III at (215) 893-5742 or wshamlin@phillytrib.com

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