Mentoring Tomorrow's Leaders - History

During the 2007-2008 school year, under the leadership of Amalia Pares- Pomerantz, concerned high school educators at Plantation High School formed a professional learning community to address the academic needs of African American, male students. This group became AAMSA– African American Male Student Achievement group; members included Shirley Baker, Diana Carter, Arlene Galarza, Wayne Johnson, Paul Kantorski, Patricia Lesesne, Dona McKenzie, Jeanne Pellegrino, Frank Pinkney, and Teresa Young. During the following school year, after much exploration of effective intervention strategies by the group, Shirley Baker suggested a mentoring model through which low-achieving African American, male freshmen would be paired with high achieving upperclassmen in a mentor-mentee relationship as a means to promote and increase academic achievement. This model was enthusiastically embraced and implemented by the group and through the diligence, tenacity, and creativity of educator, Shirley Baker, Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders (MTL), was birthed and received its name.

In the first year of the program, over forty high achieving, African American male Plantation High School students volunteered to become MTL mentors and began to work with their mentees. The following year, educator, Patricia Lesesne, further developed the program, complete with clearly established guidelines and prescriptive programmatic cycles, and successfully launched it at Boyd H. Anderson High School. The principal and administrative staff at Boyd H. Anderson High School fully supported the implementation of the model. To date, MTL-BA mentees have reported increasing grade point averages from 1.8 and lower to 3.0 and beyond within a given quarter. MTL-BA mentors and parents have reported an increase in confidence and leadership skills among the mentors, and one hundred percent of the first group of Black, male mentors at Boyd H. Anderson High School are now enrolled in four-year colleges or universities. 

While AAMSA/MTL was working to improve the academic success of African American, male students at Boyd H. Anderson and Plantation High Schools, the School Board of Broward County’s High School Graduation Rate Task Force, headed by Dr. Laurel E. Thompson, Director of Student Services, was working diligently to identify strategies to improve the high school graduation rate within the district. MTL was recognized as one viable model to be utilized for increasing the graduation rate. This model was written into a proposal for a 5-year, $4.5 million USDOE HSGI (High School Graduation Initiative) grant.

On September 30, 2010, the School Board was notified that the Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders Project was one of twenty-four projects in the nation to be awarded the HSGI grant. This grant will allow for the MTL model to be fully implemented at Boyd H. Anderson High School and Plantation High School – schools that met the USDOE’s guidelines for dropout rates. Through this grant, all students in both schools, males and females, are able to become an MTL participant.