Adult role models at C.B. Martin Middle School have begun implementing mentoring opportunities for younger male students at the school.
The program, Bridge for Sons, is aimed toward uniting the generational gaps that divide the students and staff members.
“The name alone is our vision,” said staff member Edward Powell, one of the founders of the program. “We have a purpose in being a bridge for our students.”
As the acronym suggests, BRIDGE aspires to Build Respectful, Intelligent, Diverse Gentlemen in Edgecombe. Shane Keel, an eighth-grade student at Martin Middle, shared his appreciation for the support he is receiving.
“It’s where guys mentor us to teach us how to understand things, how to do work, and focus on doing well in school,” he said.
Assistant Principal Joseph Biggs added that this mentoring initiative is the result of seeing a need for young men.
“These are not by any means bad guys,” Biggs said. “Bridge for Sons is about correcting behaviors. They just need other men in addition to their family structure to help lead and guide them through middle school and into their high school years.”
Malik Dickens, a seventh-grader at Martin Middle, looks forward to gaining more responsibility and learning to be more responsible as a result of being in this program.
“Bridge is fun because I am able to connect with people who want to help me,” Dickens said. “It also helps keep me out of trouble.”
Powell, who penned the BRIDGE idea, also created the acronym GRADUATE, which emphasizes the program’s outcome: helping students complete high school – Get it, Reach for it, Achieve it, Dream it, Use it, Allow it, Think it and Earn it.
“We have been seeing frequent fliers with different behavioral issues, but the issues are not always behavioral. There are some social skills that could be improved,” Powell said. “We wanted to step in and pull these guys in to help in those areas, especially discipline, to give them some sense of brotherhood. We also wanted to help them be able to function in society by teaching them how to handle themselves in professional situations and most importantly to help them realize the value in graduation.”
For Jessie Tyson, an eighth-grade student, Bridge for Sons is about staying out of trouble and being productive in the classroom.
“We are just starting but I am already having fun,” he said. “We have gone out to eat pizza and I know we can always trust these guys because they will talk to me. This is helping me build relationships with my teachers.”
Phillip Lampron, an instructional technology facility for Edgecombe County Public Schools, is another of Bridge for Son’s visionaries. “I feel like a lot of boys need someone to be accountable to- to know that someone will check up on them and come see about them, encourage them when they’re doing things right,” commented Lampron. “When this happens, appropriate behaviors increase, inappropriate behaviors diminish.”
Reggie Bess, teacher from Tarboro High School plays a key part in the visionary team, as well.
“I am glad to just be able to tag along and show my face,” Bess said. “This is very interesting for young men because it allows them to bond, interact with positive role models, and have positive outlooks on life during some of the most influential times of their lives.” Bess’s role is to serve as a familiar face when bridging the students from middle school to high school so that the transition is a smooth one.
Although the program is just beginning and C. B. Martin Middle School will become Martin Millennium Academy next year, the mentors are making plans for the future.
“All of the students will either be at MMA, Pattillo or Tarboro High next year,” Lampron said. “We’re brainstorming on ways to continue this. Even if we have to come to their schools when they separate, we’ll be there for them.”