• May 9, 2013
In his May 7th Make City Schools Better post, “Legacies, Past and Present,” Jeffrey Smink discusses a common problem throughout city schools. All too often students stay isolated within neighborhoods, rarely venturing to explore larger worlds. As Jeffrey says, whether it’s our parks, colleges, museums, lakes, or other cultural institutions, we need to make them more accessible to students who live nearby.” Actually, there is budding program, Men at Work, attempting to do just that.
Formed under the leadership of Hughan Reid, a ten-year veteran teacher at East High School, Men at Work is a comprehensive personal development program for African American and Hispanic young men. Men at Work team mentors are a small, committed group of adults led by an experienced RCSD teacher who monitors attendance, grades and any behavioral issues. The most exciting aspect of the program is the chance for students— guided by one or two mentors—to engage in age-appropriate service and recreational activities in Rochester and Monroe County.
For the most part, activities take place on the weekends and after school. In the past, motivational speakers such as Malik Evans have addressed the young men about the importance of being productive citizens. Also, students have had the opportunity to go kayaking through the help of the Genessee Waterways Center. As seen in the photos, about 15 students visited the Country Club of Rochester. After a tour of the club, the young men were served a five course meal and given an etiquette tutorial by the Hospitality manager.
Fundamentally, according to Hughan, the activities themselves are as important as the talk that happens in response to these situations. Through these conversations—one sometimes missing during the school day—participants expand and refine their ideas of how they define themselves, their communities, and their roles.
Hughan envisions even more opportunities: day-hiking in Monroe County parks, overnight camping and fishing expeditions, shows at GEVA, Downstairs Cabaret, RPO and Eastman School concerts, shadowing college students and professionals, community service at local food pantries, soup kitchens, long-term care facilities.
Unfortunately, right now the program lacks adequate funding. These wonderful caring and guided experiences in the larger community do take volunteers and money. If Men at Work strikes you as just the kind of program that can make city schools better, contact Hughan at [email protected] or call at 802 6967. He would love to hear from you.