Mentoring is a powerful way for community members to share their knowledge, skills, and experiences with others to help them to learn and grow. At Dumbarton Middle School, mentoring takes place on two levels. First, members of the Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc., Towson-Catonsville Alumni Chapter mentor Grade 7 students. This year, during mentoring sessions, the students are learning about and exploring the meaning of purpose and developing purpose in their lives.

As a group, they decided to practice their new learning by participating in the Martin Luther King Day of Caring on February 3, by travelling to Rodgers Forge Elementary School to mentor Kindergarten students. They developed the Room to Read initiative and went to Rodgers Forge with brand new books to read and give to the younger students. Together the Dumbarton and Rodgers Forge students engaged in literacy activities and built positive relationships. The Dumbarton Middle student participants were Amir Brown, Micah Dallas, Davion Gayle, Sidney Hilton, Vann Weems Lay, Anthony Hernandez Membreno, Jakye Mills, Nifemi Otusajo, Diego Lopez Rubio, Keon Whitten, and Mekhi Woolford.

Room to Read Initiative with Dumbarton Middle and Rodgers Forge Elementary schools

Ryan Zuckerman, a social emotional learning teacher at Dumbarton, said, “The students reading captivated the Kindergarten students’ imaginations and demonstrated for them how to read with expression and for meaning. The younger students experienced the joy of being read to by older students who provided the vision that they, too, will be able to read for meaning and expression. The Grade 7 students now have a higher appreciation of helping others, a sense of purpose, and greater reading for meaning skills.”

“The Grade 7 students came back to Dumbarton after being at Rodgers Forge and were proud and eager to share with us how they dressed up and worked together to provide a positive experience for the elementary students,” said Dumbarton Middle School Principal Mandy Shanks. “As their principal, I am so glad that they are contributing positively with their younger peers in the community.”

This experience was sponsored by an Education Foundation 21st Century Initiative Grant and the Books for Bins Campaign. Each year, The Education Foundation provides schools and offices/departments with an opportunity to apply for grants to fund innovative projects not funded in the school budget. Projects must address an identified need that is aligned with BCPS goals for academics and key actions as stated in the BCPS strategic plan and the school progress plans. The project must also have clear measurable objectives, have potential for successful implementation, and connect to one of the following themes

  • Arts & Culture
  • Civic Literacy
  • Environmental Literacy
  • Financial, Economic, Business, and Entrepreneurial Literacy
  • Global Awareness
  • Health Literacy
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

“The young men participating in the Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc., mentoring partnership have been in the program since Grade 6,” said Vernon W. Fisher, Guide Right Director, Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. “This was our first visit to Rodgers Forge for the Room to Read Project, and we hope to plan future visits to continue the initiative. We appreciate the support of the foundation to implement this program.”

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