03/29/05 — Men's fraternity working with Carver youth

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Men's fraternity working with Carver youth

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 29, 2005 1:45 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A Goldsboro mens' fraternity has been building relationships with a group of fifth-grade boys at Carver Elementary School this school year.

Members of Kappa Alpha Psi formed "The Brothers," in the fall to provide positive role models for black students in hopes of improving discipline and academic performance.

Assistant Principal Beverly Smith said the idea was to help steer the fifth-grade boys in the right direction.

"These were students with challenging behaviors," she said, "students I call 'frequent flyers' because they were frequently in my office."

The group meets monthly with the students. The schools "character word of the month," is often a springboard for discussion.

"We talk about what it means to them," said Rufus Williams, a member of the fraternity. "We'll ask such things as, 'How do you show that toward your parents?'"

Devin Lee, 11, said he liked the mentoring program right away, especially when he discovered that he could learn ways to help his family. He said he had not always enjoyed school because he wasn't good in math and science.

"Before I had been getting wrote up a lot and now I don't," he said. "I haven't been in trouble in about a year and three months."

He said he has enjoyed being able to share his thoughts and talk more openly about things with his peers.

"This has helped me think about what kind of person I want to be," he said.

Since joining the group, Devin said his grades have improved and that his parents have rewarded him for his efforts. He said they have provided encouragement, telling him "What good things happen to me when I'm responsible.

"They've told me they're proud of me. That makes me proud of myself."

Classmate Cianci Glaspie, 12, said he had to be sold on the mentoring idea.

"At first it was kind of boring," he said, but eventually "It just became fun."

He said the turning point for him was when the men took the boys to a basketball game at Mount Olive College.

Cianci says he hopes to one day be a basketball player himself. He said he also thinks about becoming a scientist, or a veterinarian. He said he has gained confidence in himself.

"If you set your mind to it in school, you can do it all," he said.

He said the men have helped him pick up some practical lessons on how to succeed in the classroom.

"They teach you ways that you can be good in class, how to not let students bother you, how to listen to your teachers," Cianci said. "It teaches you how to hold your anger in because you need to, because that's how you can get into trouble."

Williams said that for most of the boys, only a little guidance is needed. To maintain contact, members of "The Brothers," call the boys between month sessions to see how they are doing at school and in their other activities.

It's only the first year for the program, but Mrs. Smith said she has been pleased with the progress so far.

"With some of the students, I have seen a decrease in their visits to the office," she said. "I have seen a decrease in the number of suspensions."

She said she has talked with several mothers who feel it's an important program and have been very supportive of it.

"We're not expecting miracles," she said. "It's a process and it's going to take awhile ... But it is a steady process we hope to continue next year."