The opportunity to be a role model: Leading Men Fellowship

Jun 20, 2023

A Fellow in Atlanta’s Leading Men Fellowship program shares about his experience in this role and the importance of the program for young children.

James Jones, a Leading Men Fellow during the 2022-23 school year in Atlanta shared about his experience.

What about this program did you find exciting for you, for Atlanta and for the future?

“I think that the Leading Men Fellowship shows up in this city by providing opportunities for young Black men like myself to find their voice and understand what they can do in life. The program has offered more professional development even outside of opportunities in education, but also in fields of entrepreneurship. It has been an opportunity that has offered us the chance to be involved in other people’s lives. Going into the classrooms, and seeing a man— specifically a Black man— in these communities that we raise our children, being in their classrooms and taking one-on-one time with them. Literacy skills are the first step to learning, and we provide support in that. Being that man in the lives of the kids I’ve been able to mentor… I see myself in them, and I notice the impact that it has on their behavior.”

What were your hopes for the children you worked with this past year and how do you think your presence in the classroom made a difference?

“I want to be someone that they can rely on. Somebody that they can depend on, someone they can talk to. You can talk to anyone, but I want to be someone that they can relate to. I’ve had a couple of different experiences with several of the kids, I noticed the change in their behavior with me being involved. Me taking one-on-one time to just understand them… and we understand each other, especially while in a classroom building that relationship. With the kids, I want to enable them to want to learn and build relationships.”