Bridging the Gap Through Mentorship

As community members, we naturally default to the responsibility of our education system to ensure our students maintain a well-rounded, comprehensive educational experience. We rely on our teachers to prepare students for state exams and pass them onto the next grade level, all while peaking their interest in sports and engaging their curiosity for the arts. Yet, in an often understaffed sector, it isn’t until students begin to receive failing grades or display a lack of interest in school activities that red flags begin waiving.

Unfortunately, by the time an educational intervention is deemed necessary, it’s often after a child has already regressed considerably. Many students find dwindled interest in subjects where their personal interests aren’t fostered. Likewise, students may easily become discouraged when they can’t keep up with the quick pace of today’s classroom. With little or no time for the extra attention needed, students may quickly fall behind their peers. It isn’t until the system has already failed to recognize a student’s need for help when the call for change begins.

With new challenges inside the classroom arising each day, a renewed standard for hiring educators is needed. As we delve deeper into educational issues directly affecting the children in our community throughout future publications, we intend to shine a light on how community members can spearhead change in our education system. Pursuing a network of caring, passionate and dedicated teachers is imperative, but it’s what happens outside of the classroom that can also initiate an important change for our students.

What if we dared to say that community members are educators, too? Bridging the gap between our community and our educators has been the pinnacle of AJ Donaldson’s work in his two decades of experience in teaching and mentoring. By tutoring over 500 students, Donaldson came to recognize that sometimes, more than financial support is required to see through a child’s success. Giving time, expertise and leadership made a lasting impact.

Mentorship is an important attribute to the overall success of a student. When we acknowledge the unique interests of a student, we are capable of guiding them towards the space where they best thrive. A blanket of Math, English and Science skills are inherently necessary, but fail to serve each student equally. Through mentorship, students receive the freedom to explore atypical opportunities that may not be offered in the traditional school setting. The single, most rewarding way to ensure each student can reach their great potential is by meeting them where they are and equipping them with the tools to explore budding career opportunities, personal passions and help develop pertinent skill sets for their chosen path.

Education extends far beyond what happens in an average school day. Through individual organizations, community members have the opportunity to get involved and positively impact a

student’s future. By identifying our own gifts and talents, we can best assess how to serve those students in need of guidance and educational support. Often, this means a gesture as simple as donating time can have an impact that will change a child’s trajectory.

Change for our students starts with you and I as members of the community. Organizations such as United Mentors and the EPIC Foundation exist to bring forth all-star educators and stellar community members that assist students in their transition to the next grade level, post-secondary education or into their work field of choice. The effort to ensure a future generation of leaders and positive change-makers begins by working alongside our school systems to create a stronger educational experience for students, parents and educators alike.

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South Florida native and University of Miami alumnus AJ Donaldson founded United Mentors in July 2012 with almost two decades of teaching and academic mentoring experience. In his career Donaldson has successfully tutored more than 500 students in a variety of subjects, crafting a unique and comprehensive methodology that guarantees student cooperation and success.

Raised in Miami by a single mother, Donaldson often leaned on mentors throughout his childhood to help guide him and fill the void left by an absent father. The positive encouragement and guidance from his own mentors sparked a desire in Donaldson to provide the same for students in his community. Donaldson’s passion to help those in need culminated in the establishment of United Mentors.

United Mentors is fully equipped to help children in any community by providing them with the tools necessary to be successful through the tutor-mentoring vehicle. United Mentors has established a network of reputable advisers that continues to grow daily.