Mentors build community

Mentors build community

Pearl Joy Balagot

HERE TO HELP: Mentor Jalessa Bryant has been working with Fremont Federation students this year through the Building Healthy Communities, a federally-funded program.

Carlos Vera is a Media Academy junior who says he couldn’t complete his work in class because he couldn’t stay focused — but then he received help from mentor Jalessa Bryant.

“My mentor helps me finish my work and turn in the assignments on time,” said Vera.

Vera is one of many students receiving guidance from Building Healthy Communities, an AmeriCorps program. The federal government funds the program to operate in schools across the U.S.

Students must be recommended by a teacher or counselor to participate in Building Healthy Communities, which gives students extra support in school and after school.

The program, which started in January at Fremont, offers academic help, community service activities, and college and career assistance. Starting at 9:30 a.m., students can received help from Bryant, a graduate of University of California, Berkeley, until 5:30 p.m., and Sloane Flashman, a graduate of University of Washington, until 6 p.m.

About five students at a time meet in the library with one of the mentors for an hour each week to get help on work outside of class, either independently or in a group. They participate in many activities, ranging from playing games and watching movies to doing homework, silent reading or working on job applications. At other times, the program is a place for students to go when they just need some time away from class, the mentors explained.

“So far it has been fun and entertaining working with the young adults,” said Bryant.
Students say they enjoy the program.

“I enjoy getting help with my class work,” said Belen Collazo, a junior at College Preparatory & Architecture Academy.

Media junior Rogelio Romero also likes participating in the program.

“This program has helped me pay more attention in class because when I’m in tutoring, Jalessa explains to me what the assignment is about in detail. That makes me want to stay focused in class,” he said.

Richard Yacco, a broadcast journalism teacher at Media Academy, said students this year have been leaving his classroom for a variety of programs that mentor students.

“The students that leave my class for mentoring are improving. While they are in the class they are not doing anything [so] I would rather for them go to mentors to get help,” he said.

Building Healthy Communities will be available until the end of the school year.