Welcome to the beginning of a new school year! This is an exciting time as Shepherds welcomes sixteen new young people to our Shepherds’ Class of 2025. We’ve all been highly impressed and encouraged the by way this class of students has bonded in two programs held this two summer – Shepherds’ Cougar Camp for Kolbe Cathedral freshman in August and the Notre Dame’s Summer Xperience held earlier this summer.
It is also an exciting time because our recently graduated Class of 2021 is launching into the next phase of their academic careers. We’ve had a few of these Shepherds graduates stop by our office and it’s been wonderful to see the excitement and confidence they have about their futures. Seeing our graduates achieving their dreams makes all of us at Shepherds very proud of them.
In this newsletter you will see two stories reflecting our past. These stories highlight the enduring nature of what the Shepherds program provides both the student and the mentor. One is about former Shepherds Board Member and Mentor, Ruby Melton. Ruby and her mentee, Ernie Santiago NDWH ’18, remain close friends as he finishes up his degree in nursing at Quinnipiac University. Another look back comes from KCHS ’16 alumnus Jason Howell. In a recent Zoom interview, he discusses the importance of his mentor for life, Tom Luciano. These stories reassure me that we are succeeding in our mission.
As we begin the new school year full of great hope and anticipation, we are obviously still saddled with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our school partners are doing a wonderful job ensuring the academic environment is as normal as possible during this time. We are grateful for their hard work.
While the school year ahead may have some bumps in the road here and there, Shepherds is confident that together with our school partners, our Shepherds Mentors and Students, we can navigate the challenges ahead. “Adapt, Innovate, and Overcome” remains Shepherds’ motto this year and it reflects a deep commitment to our mission of Changing Lives…One Student at a Time – no matter what curves life throws our way. Thank you for your many and generous contributions of time and treasure, and most of all your caring!
Dr. Andre Sofair is a Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Yale Medical School and holds a secondary appointment in the School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases. In addition to this impressive resume, Dr. Sofair has spent the past four years as a Shepherds Mentor to graduating NDWH student, Jamar, who will be attending Trinity College this fall. Dr. Sofair found the experience so rewarding that he has signed up to mentor an incoming Notre Dame freshman/Shepherds Student this fall.
When asked what made the mentoring experience so enjoyable that he volunteered to mentor again, Dr. Sofair said, “Very few things are as valuable as a good education. It is what gives you wings to soar and explore the world. It gives you the skills to contribute to your community and freedom to choose how to do so. I can think of no better way to share my time then to mentor a young man during his high school years.”
Thank you to Dr. Sofair and all our Shepherds Mentors for guiding our Shepherds Students.
Order of Malta has been a long time generous donor to Shepherds’ mission of changing lives one student at a time. Over our 23 years, dozens of CT Malta members have been mentors and served multiple “tours” as Shepherds mentors. Currently four of our 64 mentors for next year are members of the Order.
This year the Order met Shepherds’ full grant request (which rarely if ever happens in grant requests) to underwrite the purchase of Chromebooks and Ti-84 graphing calculators for ALL incoming KCHS and NDWH Shepherds students. Thank you, Order of Malta!!
The Shepherds Class of 2021 is filled with 17 talented students: a salutatorian, a senior class president, many honor roll students, competitive athletes, engaged community members, entrepreneurs, and above all, high school graduates. These graduates have amazing plans for themselves post-graduation. Watch the video above to find out more.
Shepherds wants to continue to help close the opportunity gap in Bridgeport and New Haven. We are asking for your financial support to help us make an impact in your own backyard.
A donation in support of a Shepherds Student’s education TODAY will have a lasting impact on that student’s TOMORROW.
Please consider a donation in any amount. We are so thankful for you and so are our students.
The month of April normally brings many positive themes to our attention – longer days, warmer sun, birds chirping early in the morning, and a budding optimism for the coming months. This year obviously brings all those normal occurrences but with the added cautious optimism of a world recovering from a pandemic health crisis.
For our Shepherds students and community, this spring also brings the opportunity to be back in the classroom more, to engage in team sports, and for students and mentors to see each other in outdoor settings. We again congratulate our students, their families, mentors, our school partners for the good faith effort all put into making this past year as successful as one could hope.
With that renewed sense of optimism and self-confidence, it’s time to call upon on this collective strength of the Shepherds community to help build for the school year 2021 – 2022. As you might realize from the financial and personal repercussions of the last year, the need for a quality education in a safe environment, for a positive role model in the life of a young person and the support of an organization where the 14 year old high school student is the “franchise player” has rarely been greater.
What I am asking is simply to invite our Shepherds family to spread the word about what Shepherds does, the opportunity it provides to underserved individuals, the impact it makes “changing lives”, and the rewards it bestows on students, mentors and donors alike. Being part of the Shepherds team does require tangible effort and resources; the rewards, however, are immeasurable intangibles!
We are now interviewing over 15 students and expect more to be seeking to participate in Shepherds’ Class of 2025. We are seeking mentors and financial resources to meet that demand. The Shepherds’ story sells itself. Thank you for passing it along.
With your assistance we can again prove that We are Better Together, in every sense and application of those words.
Long time partners, Shepherds and Notre Dame High School have teamed up once again to bring you a dynamic panel discussion sharing the ways mentoring can have a critical impact on youth in your community. To find out more about this event, including our guest panelists, please review our flyer.
To sign up for this free event, please fill out the contact information below. Please note: if accessing via mobile or tablet and you do not see “Submit” button, just hit “Enter” and your registration will be submitted and you will see a thank you screen.
The pandemic has shined a light on socio-economic disparities in education in Connecticut. Per the CT Mirror, this Spring during the COVID-19 shutdown of schools “In Bridgeport, a full half of the student body didn’t show up regularly for remote schooling during the pandemic compared to 19% who were chronically absent before school buildings closed.” Likewise in New Haven, public school district leadership told the State Education Accountability Committee, that during the first week of remote learning this fall an estimated 65% of the students participated. As a point of comparison, Fairfield Warde and Ludlowe High Schools had participation rates in the 90+% this September per CT Data.
Now more than ever, inner city high school students have more barriers to accessing a quality, college preparatory high school education. For 22 years, Shepherds has been addressing educational disparities in Fairfield and New Haven Counties. Our track record speaks for itself. 95% of our students graduate on time and 90% attend institutes of higher learning after high school, as compared to their public school peers graduation rates of 65-75% and college entrance rates hovering around 60%.
The needs of inner city high school students in Connecticut are greater than ever. With a donation to Shepherds today, you will be investing in a student’s future and helping solve the education opportunity gap right in your own backyard.
Mentoring young people relies upon the power of interpersonal connections with their mentors. Maintaining those connections can be challenging during COVID and creating new ones can prove to be even trickier. Shepherds has met these challenges head-on for our new mentors for the students of the Shepherds Class of 2024.
Shepherds has a robust training program for mentors, students and their families which normally takes place in person. COVID has changed our training program to a hybrid of virtual and in-person training which has required some adjustments. We are happy to report that our new mentors and freshman students have begun making solid personal connections.
Zoom meetings kicked off mentor training with a focus on mentoring expectations and mentoring in safe virtual and in-person environments. Our staff was impressed with how engaged our mentors were during these sessions. Up next were parent and student training sessions followed up with in-person meetings for most and a virtual meet up for one mentor, student and parent.
When mentors, students and parents met for the first time, it became clear that it is easy to be social and get to know another and still stay six feet apart. Shepherds Staff witnessed the beginning of new relationships and being physically distant, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer didn’t change a thing.
For over 20 years, Shepherds has been empowering inner-city Connecticut teens to build a foundation for success by helping close the educational inequality gap in Fairfield and New Haven counties.
Shepherds provides each student the tuition support to attend a college preparatory education, academic and life skills programs, and the positive role model and four-year guidance of a Shepherds Mentor.
Shepherds is repeatedly asked the question, “Who are your students?” We are able to provide the demographics of race, gender, income difficulties, etc., and these are important data points about our students. However, it doesn’t capture who they ARE.
This year, we asked the incoming freshman to write a poem entitled, “I AM.” Shepherds believes these poems are powerful statements about who our students are – what their hopes, goals, dreams and fears are.
To find out how you can be a part of changing a teen’s life, go to www.shepherdsmentors.org or contact Executive Director Dan McAuliffe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can make a difference, right in your own backyard.
Shepherds is exceptionally proud to welcome our new students to the Shepherds’ program at Kolbe Cathedral High School. Shepherds Class of 2024 come from a wide variety of family backgrounds, talents, hobbies and academic achievements. This group of young people have two things in common which determined their selection among the over 20 applications received for Shepherds KCHS program this year – their academic potential and their compelling desire to do the work necessary to succeed.
Shepherds is grateful to all of our donors who contributed to make the Class of 2024 financially possible. Of course, Shepherds Mentors are the greatest asset of our program, and we would like to thank the five men and five women who stepped forward to volunteer to mentor a Shepherds Student. The Shepherds Donors’ and Mentors’ generosity have enabled us to give these students the opportunity of taking one the first steps to achieving their dreams!
Our Kolbe Cathedral High School program kicked off this week with an Orientation STEM week called Cougar Camp. Stay tuned to see how the Shepherds/KCHS Class of 2024 began their high school education at this interactive, educational and fun week.