TEMPLE HILLS – Starting this week a group of Crossland High School seniors will be a text, email or phone call away from mentors who can provide college and career advice. The program, Read Between the Minds, is the first e-mentoring program in the county’s public school system to help students with college and career […]
TEMPLE HILLS – Starting this week a group of Crossland High School seniors will be a text, email or phone call away from mentors who can provide college and career advice.
The program, Read Between the Minds, is the first e-mentoring program in the county’s public school system to help students with college and career readiness. Two of the program’s four co-founders, Faith Jackson and Zenaida Enchill, graduated from Charles Flowers High School just two years ago.
The two Ivy League college students said they co-founded the program inspired by their own experiences.
“We witnessed a lot of students who were very capable and intelligent, but had a very difficult time with college applications, financial aid applications and other things,” Enchill, a junior comparative literature major on a pre-med track at Princeton University, said.
It was natural to target the school system they grew up in, Jackson and Enchill said.
Read Between the Minds will pair up 18 seniors from Crossland High School with mentors who are either in college or are recent graduates. Most of the mentors attended public schools in Prince George’s County, said Jackson, a sophomore economics major at Harvard University and former student member of the Board of Education.
The program allows students and their mentors to communicate using Google accounts, from which they can email, text, call and video call for free, Jackson said.
“The whole goal of this was to pair (students) with someone who had previously been in their shoes, give a firsthand account on how to maneuver these systems,” Enchill said, referring to the college application process.
Read Between the Minds paired up with Crossland High School at the suggestion of Board of Education Member Edward Burroughs, Jackson said. Jackson and Burroughs served together on the Board from 2011 to 2012 and have worked on various initiatives together.
Based on support and school environment, Burroughs said he thought Crossland would be the best fit for the e-mentoring program.
“There’s something powerful in having extremely successful, young college students mentoring high school students,” Burroughs said. “These are students from Prince George’s County Public Schools who can speak the same language as 11th and 12th grade students.”
Crossland’s principal,Theresa Moseley Fax, approved the mentorship program after Jackson demonstrated the mentorship program would not cost the school any money, Jackson said. The school then selected students for the e-mentoring program.
“I thought it was a wonderful idea,” Fax said.
This year, the school had to cancel its college summit class, a course which helped students through the college application process. The class cost the school about $200 per student, Fax said.
Both Enchill and Jackson said they had family members who had gone to college, so they had role models who could help them with the college application process. However, this is not the case for all students. Additionally, they said students sometimes need additional guidance beyond the career and college resources provided by their school.
Enchill said she sees the mentors as a supplementary resource to any existing career services, guidance counselors and teachers.
Some students may apply for less selective schools, while not realizing the financial aid possibilities at more selective schools, Jackson said.
“[Students] aren’t aware of their options as they could be,” Jackson said.
“Students were used to regularly meeting with counselors, with experts applying to Harvard,” she said.
Jackson said she visited a Harvard admissions officer in Bethesda while in high school. “Before, it was just Googling things,” she said.
Pairing the students with schools that fit their academic and personal preferences is also an important goal of the mentorship, Jackson said.
The school district is always working on career readiness initiatives, Burroughs said. The Board works to train guidance counselors and principals, he said, and wants to offer more AP classes and raise school enrollment.
“At the same time, there’s only so much our school district our size can do,” Burroughs said. “There’s a fear of tearing down the walls of school and bringing in the help of focused non-profits. My goal after this year is to expand this e-mentoring to (all) high schools in my district.”
In the future, Jackson said she hopes the program will help not only upper classmen, but younger classmen as well.
“We really want to get to a place where the mentees get to be the mentors,” Jackson said.