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Mentoring Matters: Omega Lamplighters Reach 5th Graders 
On a recent weekday afternoon, a group of fifth grade boys at Sarah Moore Greene Academy take a detour from the cafeteria into a multi-purpose room just down the hall. 

They quietly eat their lunches as mentors from the Iota Alpha Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity greet them. 

"How are your grades?" one of the men asks. These are the Omega Lamplighters, volunteers for the character development program for fifth grade boys. 


Omega Lamplighter Chair Terry Mosley explains that the fraternity focuses its mentorship program on 5th graders because it’s a significant and potentially precarious time in a child’s life. Reading scores for 3rd and 4th graders are commonly used as predictors for young people's success; low literacy scores can be connected to high drop-out rates and criminal involvement. 

Fifth grade is a good time to present young men with positive role models, career opportunities, and some extra attention. Community Schools site coordinator Jervece Steele agrees. 

“They’re getting ready to move to middle school. We baby them a bit more," she says. 

Omega Lamplighters visit once a month. Some programs include a speaker--a business owner or another professional who can talk about their career path. Junior Lamplighters also get the opportunity to visit the University of Tennessee football training facility and the WATE studios. And they're feted with a special Breakfast of Champions breakfast and an end-of-year awards ceremony to celebrate participant students' improvements in grades, attendance and other areas. 

Mr. Avant and student

On this afternoon, the boys are getting active. SMGA math and science teacher Antwan Avant leads them a step routine...or are they leading him? The Memphis native notes that 5th grade is a critical transition between elementary school and middle school.  

“They’re going to have a lot of independence in middle school,” he says, “and we want them to have the skills to prepare them for that responsibility.”

For more information on mentoring opportunities in Knoxville, see our list of resources at KnoxvilleTN.gov/EmpowerKnox

Posted by ptravis On 01 February, 2023 at 4:04 PM