Jeffco Schools

Program helps students find right direction

Brady Alternative High School launches mentorship program

Posted 9/19/17

Brady High School student Melody Soto wasn’t sure what to expect the first time she met with her mentor, Ashley Becker.

“I thought I could only talk about certain things and had to be a certain way,” said Soto, who aims to graduate from …

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Jeffco Schools

Program helps students find right direction

Brady Alternative High School launches mentorship program

Posted

Brady High School student Melody Soto wasn’t sure what to expect the first time she met with her mentor, Ashley Becker.

“I thought I could only talk about certain things and had to be a certain way,” said Soto, who aims to graduate from Brady in 2019. “I thought I’d maybe have to hide my tattoos.”

Instead, Soto found she could open up to Becker about personal experiences, challenges and decisions when it comes to school and the four sports she plays, and they could share an appreciation of tattoos.

“I can tell her things without being judged,” Soto said. “She’s able to steer me in the right direction.”

That’s exactly what Daniel Mulitauopele, re-engagement coach and mentoring coordinator at Brady, an alternate high school in Jeffco focused on working with juniors and seniors who have dropped out of other schools, was hoping for when he first pitched Brady Engage, the school’s new mentoring program, more than a year ago.

“When I was interviewing for this job, I was asked what I would do to lower the about 90 students who drop out every year,” Mulitauopele said. “These kids need more adults in their lives that can make a positive impact, and that’s why I decided to go with a mentorship program.”

Mulitauopele spent last year laying the groundwork for Brady Engage, and was able to start it this year.

“We have about 300 students here, and 60 signed up for the program,” he said. “The idea is this is more than a tutor — it’s a true mentor who helps with a variety of things.”

There are three pillars Mulitauopele wants mentors to focus on with their mentees — academics, social, and emotional development.

“We’d just meet for an hour or so and hang out,” Becker said. “Melody is great about being receptive to what I’m saying, and the challenges I put to her.”

The program is starting with just 10 mentors — a number he will need to dramatically increase if the Brady Engage is to be successful. Mulitauopele is looking to the community to find volunteers and interested people who want to help several students.

“We provide a mentoring class to anyone who is interesting, even if they’re hesitant about signing up,” he added. “Right now I’ve mostly been getting people by word of mouth, but we’re hoping to do more outreach.”

Becker was inspired to start mentoring by picturing the rough times in her past, and thinking about how helpful it would have been to have someone to help.

“It’s important for kids to have positive role models,” she said. “It also teaches me to step away from selfishness and learn to listen.”

Brady also launched an internship program this year to get students out in the business community — both are ways the school is getting proactive in helping students.

The school received money from Colorado’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant program, which is run by the Colorado Department of Education.

“Brady has utilized the grant to implement innovative approaches to addressing the unique needs of their high school student population, including providing addiction counseling and dropout re-engagement services,” said Jeremy Meyer, director of communications with the department. “They also maintain a full schedule of after-school programming to support college and career readiness, including tutoring and homework support, woodworking and cooking classes.”

When looking for mentors, Mulitauopele tells people it’s fun, not as time-consuming as most think, and allows them to do some real good in a student’s life.

“This is an investment in people,” he said. “When you see them receive their diploma, you’ll know you made an impact.”

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