NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Norfolk teacher is taking back the community.
The educator started a mentor group for young men at her school. The group aims to keep kids in the classroom and out of trouble.
The group was started by Kenyetta Vann, who was recently named Norfolk’s Teacher of the Year.
Every Thursday, the walls of Mt. Hermon Baptist Church are filled with the words of this creed:
“We never fail because we never quit. We are our brother’s keeper.”
The young men reciting this creed are part of the mentor program called Rescuing Our Boys, or R.O.B. for short.
“I like to say that it’s more of a pipeline to college than a pipeline to prison,” Vann said. That’s the overall goal.”
Vann, who teaches at Norview Middle School, started the program earlier this year after one of her students made a choice that got him into trouble.
“There has to be something more that I could be doing,” she said. “Some of them need rescuing and if I can play a role in that then I definitely want to.”
Vann reached out to school leaders and parents to recruit young men who could use extra guidance.
The group has been holding regular meetings for the last six weeks.
Church members volunteer their time to teach life skills
“We talk about finances, we talk about jobs, we talk about relationships,” said mentor Kevin Alexander.
They also preach the benefits of education and are there to be a role model who listens.
“We had boys that were skipping school, getting suspended and now they’re getting on the right track,” Vann said.
“We won’t ever be the ones to walk out on them. We tell them from the beginning that we’ll be there until the end,” Alexander said.
Vann said the group is encouraged to dream big and the young men tell 10 On Your Side they’re proud to be part of the movement.
“It just helps me. It boosts my head up to do the right thing,” said Daryius, one of the mentees. “Don’t hang around the wrong crowd and just be yourself. Do what you gotta do to become better.”
Vann’s work isn’t done.
She hopes to expand the program to include more young men and she eventually wants to start a young girls mentor group as well.