Tag Archives: Tag: Zoom

Dear Shepherds Friend,

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!

Stay safe, well and let’s enjoy the future!

Dan McAuliffe

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.



Mentor Training

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.


Shepherds’ seniors at our partner schools, Notre Dame West Haven and Kolbe Cathedral, are in the midst of making their college selection for the fall. Unlike previous years, COVID-19 is making in-person guidance counseling and mentoring very challenging for students and their guidance counselors. Analyzing academic goals, financial aid packages and potential transportation issues is a daunting task for many of our first-generation students. We are happy to report that they are rising to the challenge!

Their hard work and dedication in school is having an enormous impact in the options they have for college. The Shepherds program along with our partner schools, provide an education that has an impact that lasts long after our students graduate high school. We will announce their final selections in June and hope to find a way to to honor their accomplishments in person this summer.

Shepherds is recruiting mentors for the class of 2024. Be a part of the next group of Shepherds students’ success by applying to be a mentor today! To find out more, contact Dan McAuliffe at info@shepherdsmentors.org or call 203-367-4273

Our model for success for our students has been working for over 20 years. COVID-19 has caused us to adjust our model to reflect the realities of today. Our students, mentors and program have proved to be both resilient and innovative.

The biggest change in our students’ lives is that they now are distant learners. Many of our students live in homes where they are now helping take care or help teach their younger siblings while their parents are at work. Not every student has a place that can be quiet and dedicated to their studies. Nevertheless, Shepherds students remain successful in achieving their academic goals! Shepherds would like to thank their partner schools, Kolbe Cathedral High School and Notre Dame West Haven, for adapting to this remote learning environment quickly for our students. Shepherds administration is staying on top of students’ progress to ensure that every student remains on track.

Mentors have also had to adapt as in-person visits cannot happen at this time. Technology has been helpful in maintaining the connection between student and mentor. Use of Zoom, FaceTime and other video-based applications have helped bridge that connection gap. Even some of our less tech-savvy mentors have really stepped up and embraced these applications. While certainly not the same as being together in person, all agree that it is better than a phone call or not checking in at all.

Shepherds’ graduation rate is 95% compared to their Bridgeport and New Haven peers’ graduation rate at 55-60%. 100% of last year’s graduating class attended college. Our program ‘flattens the curve’ by providing a quality, college preparatory education, academic and social skills training, and most importantly, a mentor to guide the way. Simply put, Shepherds works.

We are recruiting mentors for our freshman class beginning this fall and invite you to find out more about being a Shepherds’ mentor. Mentoring can change the life of a child with socio-economic and academic disadvantages – and it is very satisfying to be a part of that growth! Contact Executive Director Dan McAuliffe at info@shepherdsmentors.org or call 203-367-4273.