More of a Mentor-Slash-Counselor

“If we don’t put the work in to help them pursue their vision, what’s going to happen next? That’ll be another person that we’ll lose to the streets.”

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Transcript for More of a Mentor-Slash-Counselor

My role here as a security guard is really different from where I used to work as Gary at the Gary school system. We’re a small school, there’s only 600 students. So coming from a school where there’s 1400 students to just 600 students, I get a lot more one-on-one with a lot of kids. A lot of these kids here are raised by a single parent, or they’re special needs students, or have some type of emotional history in their lives.

So I have to make a different transition almost every day here. I can’t just come in thinking as a police officer. I got to come in thinking as a person as well. Cause I can have a student having problems at home and comes here and flies off at the handle. So, as a police officer, someone who’s being irate and being disorderly, it’s immediately lock ‘em up, handcuff ‘em, take ‘em to jail if you can’t get them to get under control.

Here, it’s the total opposite. It’s like, okay, come on, talk to me, let’s go to my office, tell me what’s going on with you, and what’s going on in your life today. So I’m more of a, yes, I’m a security guard here, yes I’m a police officer, but I’m more now of a mentor-slash-counselor person as well. And sometimes I’m a disciplinarian, I do thinks like what the principal would do: give them detention on Saturdays if they don’t do right. And we do a lot more time out things, where we bring them in and talk to them and let them calm down before we take them back to class. So it’s not automatically jail or suspension, like some other schools that I’ve known since I’ve been here.

I started a mentoring program for boys, high school boys, because a lot of them don’t understand or know how to become a man or how to portray as a young man coming into adulthood.

The first day we had the meeting, I asked them, do they see themselves graduating? A lot of them’s like, “No.” Do they see themselves becoming twenty-one? A lot was like, “No.” I was like, “Why?” They said because what is there for them to do? What is life? Now I got a lot of them that joined the military, so they saw that as an out. So when they graduate they join the marines, joined the army and the navy. So they see it as some more to life than being in the streets.

I even have one kid now, we sit there and we talk how he, as a youngster, stayed in and out of trouble, being suspended, ended up going to jail. Once I sat down and talked with him earlier this year, now he’d made his transition, made his decision, doing what he’s doing, got his grades. He took his GPA up to a 3.5 and he wants to go off to college.

And I know from my history as an officer, coming through, that you’re going to have those you lose no matter what. So it’s going to impact you and it has impacted me sometimes, ‘cause, you know, I’ve seen some that I’ve coached and mentored that’s no longer here. That’s been killed.

It affects me a lot, ‘cause I have to ask myself, “Did I really give this person the right amount of time to try to do what needs to be done to get themselves right?” Yes, he trusted me and embedded me, but when he leaves here did he keep it in mind? Did he get that same reinforcement at home, or if not, did I do enough to keep on him every day?

It hurts. It’s going to always hurt. But I can’t dwell on it because there might be three or four other ones that look at me and say, “Oh, if he gives up, what I need to do? I’ll give up too.” So I can’t do that.  I have to do it amongst closed doors and then just keep pushing and keep driving, because I don’t know who’s watching me. I don’t know which kid got his eye on me, which kid’s really looking up to me, and following the same path, or trying to wear the shoes I’m wearing.

Who knows, we might have the next president or whoever walking through these buildings now as a student who has that aspiration. But if we don’t put the work in to help them to see that or help them pursue their vision, what’s going to happen next? That’ll be another person that we’ll lose to the streets.