The best mentors are human and flawed. They’re relatable.

As we’re settling in to 2019, now is the time to remind Central Florida that local students are hungry for the guidance and support of a trusted mentor.

As a mentor, you have the potential to reshape the future for a child. I cannot overstate that. I’m living proof – on both sides.

I grew up in a single-parent household. As a student at Evans High School, I was determined to do well in school, but I struggled to create a plan for my future.

Once in college, I found a mentor who helped guide me, which — full circle –took me right back to Evans.

Our students have so much potential – but they need a trusted adult to encourage them to reach it. Through Evans High School, A Community Partnership School — a commitment among Children’s Home Society of Florida, Orange Blossom Health, Orange County Public Schools and the University of Central Florida— students have the chance to engage in a wide variety of community solutions that provide the foundation for them to realize their full potential.

The beauty of Evans, and other Community Partnership Schools – including OCPS Academic Center for Excellence in Parramore – is that they eliminate barriers to success by bringing services and resources like health care, counseling, mentoring and leadership opportunities right to the students.

Once kids know how much you care, how much you believe in them, they start to believe it themselves.

As both a teacher and Community Partnership School director at Evans, I had the chance to integrate mentoring and teaching by leading an all-male class from Pine Hills throughout their high school career. During our time together, all of those young men became mentors themselves. Each was accepted to college and two have since returned to Evans as interns to coordinate the mentorship program.

Since implementing the Community Partnership School™ model at Evans – which includes the mentorship program –  we’ve seen rising graduation rates and a 50 percent drop in disciplinary referrals. Thousands of students’ lives are changing.

But to help thousands, you have to start with just one.

Every one of us can empower the next generation.

Becoming a mentor can be intimidating. At Evans High School, A Community Partnership School, our team is here to help. We offer themes, topics, curriculums and support to help guide your conversations and mentor/ mentee relationship.

But that’s just one way to begin reshaping futures. There are countless other opportunities you can pursue to become a mentor and truly transform a life.

I became a mentor to give young people the same guidance and encouragement my mentor gave me – a happiness I didn’t know existed. My story isn’t unique. Many successful adults link themselves to one individual that inspired them greatly as a child. That single individual could be you.