Boys need mentors

Published 10:22 am Thursday, July 13, 2017

By Shawan Gabriel

Special to the Enterprise

Last week I shared how a mentor changed my life.

As a two-time Big Brother myself, I’m fortunate to have experienced both sides of the mentoring equation, and I know the exact value of having and being a mentor.

It’s an easy equation to solve. One mentor plus one mentee yields unlimited potential, and this is exactly what happened when Big Brother David Sipprell, Forsyth District Court judge, was paired with his Little Brother, Issiah.

In 2010, Issiah had to repeat the ninth grade, and his mother enrolled him in the “Graduate. It Pays.” initiative. He was matched with Big Brother Judge David Sipprell.

For the next four years, Judge Sipprell picked his Little Brother up before school one day a week, and the two enjoyed breakfast at Chick Fil-A. But more than that, they became friends who could talk about his grades, his path to graduation and his goals for life after high school.

After graduation, Issiah explained how having a mentor changed his life.

“The one thing that changed my life was that my Big Brother cared. My grades changed because he was there to ask me about my grades. I didn’t care about my grades or report cards before that. He helped me find a way to get better, and I was better.”

Today, Issiah is at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Data has shown that students who have a mentor for all four years of high school have a graduation rate of 96 percent, which has a huge impact in the community.

In the 2017-18 school year, Big Brothers Big Sisters will begin working with repeat ninth graders and struggling10th graders at Davie County High School. The program is called SMART Mentoring (Students Maximizing Achievement, Relationships and Time).

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ goal is to serve these repeat ninth graders and/or struggling 10th graders in a one-to-one mentoring relationship with a focus on improving their academic status. Bigs will visit their Littles during their SMART lunch period once a week for one year, and a group mentoring session will take place once a month.

But you don’t have to wait until school starts. Right now, there are nine boys in elementary and middle school who are waiting for a Big Brother who can build their confidence, teach them to make good decisions and help them find success in high school and in life. They need a male mentor to be a friend and listen, just like Judge Sipprell.

It’s as easy as eating breakfast together or sharing your lunch hour. If you have one hour a week to spend with a child, either at their school or in the community, contact Big Brothers Big Sisters today.

Hunter lives with his mother and enjoys going outside, playing catch and swimming. He struggles in school and would like a Big Brother who likes video games, sports, bowling and going fishing.

Solomon loves the military, riding his bike and being outside. He does well in school but needs a positive male role model who can provide one-to-one attention. His ideal Big Brother has lots of energy and is willing to be active outdoors.

Volunteer today at or call 336-751-9906.