“Men at Work” program expands student horizons

• May 9, 2013


Rochester Country Club Etiquette Lesson

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.

Men-at-Work-150x150Formed 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.


Rochester Country Club Dinner

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.

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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