Most of us can remember that one adult—a teacher, parent, or neighbor—who made our transition from adolescence into adulthood a little easier. But for young people in the juvenile justice or foster care system, finding adults who can provide ongoing support and understand the unique challenges these youth face can be a difficult and sometimes impossible task. And while numerous agencies help connect young people to mentors, very few are equipped to assist these at-risk youth, leaving many without the guidance they so desperately need.
When describing the training program he has designed to prepare people to work as mentors for youth in the juvenile justice system, Joe Ippolito uses some expected terms, like support and nurture. But he is just as likely to lead with terms like challenge and agitate.
When a woman is convicted of a crime and
sent to prison, family life can fall apart. To
support children as they live through the
trauma of a mother’s imprisonment, EDC
is working with the Massachusetts-based
Aid to Incarcerated Mothers (AIM) to
provide children with an adult mentor.
With training from EDC and AIM staff, the
mentors help children, ages 4–14, build
their sense of self-confidence and stability,
strengthen their academic skills, and
maintain family relationships.
Nearly half of the new teachers in America’s classrooms today will leave the profession within their first five years of teaching, according to a recent report by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, with science and mathematics experiencing even higher rates of teacher turnover than the profession as a whole. This new data has shifted the focus of policy discussions about the supply and professionalism of America’s teaching force from strategies for recruiting teachers to strategies for keeping them.