The gift of mentorship is priceless. Many community members gave that very gift to several young men at Rockdale Academy during the fourth annual “Guys with Ties” event.
Guys with Ties is organized by Cincinnati City Council Member Jeff Pastor. The program has brought men from the community to Rockdale Academy the past three years to provide mentorship and guidance to boys in third through sixth grades.
“It’s a beautiful thing for these mentors to come and do this work with our students,” said Belinda Tubbs-Wallace, principal at Rockdale Academy. “They take time away from their jobs or whatever they have going on to be here. We are so grateful.”
This year, Pastor and fellow organizers collected nearly $7,000 worth of donated items for the students, which included more than a thousand pairs of new socks, as well as new personal items like underwear, toiletries, school uniforms, hats and gloves. Additionally, more than a dozen community members participated as mentors. The theme was “Mind, Body and Soul,” with the intent to address all three areas with the young men from Rockdale.
First, was a physical activity to get everyone moving and energized. Community member Tyran Marshall led the students through physical exercises and a relay race. Afterwards, Mark Lane, of Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church, walked students through a meditation exercise.
“Sometimes, when everything else in life just seems so loud, going to a quiet place and listening to yourself breathe can help you continue and carry on,” said Lane.
After meditation, pizza was served and students broke up into small groups with their assigned mentors. During their time together, the students and mentors could talk about anything and everything – from tackling academic challenges to how they could start to assert themselves as young men and set positive examples in their homes, school and community.
“These mentors have a wealth of knowledge and experience,” Pastor told the students. “They really love and care about you, so we hope you connect and learn something that you can apply to your own life.”
Finally, mentors reached behind their chairs for the main event — teaching students how to tie a tie. Students could select their tie and try their hand at a Windsor or bow tie knot, with their mentors helping them along the way.
Rockdale Academy has other resources for students, such as a “groom room,” which has extra uniform shirts and personal items students may need while at school. A few times a month, boys can get a haircut from a professional barber, such as Mr. Joe from A King’s Chop Shop or Mr. Bo from Bo Barber Shop.
Rockdale thanks all the mentors who came out to support students. Keep up with the great things happening at Rockdale Academy at rockdaleacademy.cps-k12.org.