Fayetteville elementary school boys receive male mentors

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Margaret Willis Elementary School boys are being paired with male mentors in an effort to provide positive role models throughout their primary education years. (WTVD)

Thirty-six boys from Fayetteville's Margaret Willis Elementary School are being paired with male mentors in an effort to provide positive role models throughout their primary education years.

The mentoring program is a part of the new "Boys of Distinction" program, which is in its inaugural year.

On Tuesday morning, the students greeted their mentors, wearing bowties, white shirts and dress pants.

The mentors, including Cumberland County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Frank Till, will be paired with the students from now until their high school graduations if they remain in the CCS system.

"We need men to teach our boys how to be men," said Principal Peggy Raymes.

Mentors will spend at least 30 minutes a week with their mentees. They can give them a quick telephone call, meet them at the school for lunch or do things like show them how to cut grass and take them out for haircuts.

The program's founder, longtime educator Charles Brown, said it only takes a little bit of time and a long-term commitment to see an immediate change in the boys.

"They speak differently. They act differently. Their choices are positive," said Brown, the parent facilitator. "Now I know there's still a lot of room to work, and we're going to make those changes, but the most important thing [is] you have to start some place."

Brown has facilitated mentoring programs through the school for years, and said it initially started with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students until parents of younger boys began coming to him for help.

He said the idea for this particular program came about after he and his wife noticed how well the female students were doing in oratorical competitions. The school's male students needed help to build the same confidence.

"So often people talk about action, but they're not ready to move," he noted.

Superintendent Till also noted research revolving around gangs, and why young people end up joining them for love and acceptance.

"I've seen that we can save children by simply getting involved," Till told the group of new mentors. "There's someone he [or she] can show allegiance to outside of gangs."

Mentors are subject to background checks. There are still mentoring slots available at Margaret Willis Elementary. For more information contact Charles Brown at the school. The number is (910) 484-9064.

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