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Mentors help Leesburg boys develop leadership skills, responsibility

LEESBURG -- Boys at Leesburg Elementary School are getting some after-school encouragement from male role models who have agreed to serve as mentors, helping the boys develop leadership skills and a greater sense of responsibility.

 Principal Heather Gelb describes the Boys to Men program as a “bridge of support.”

 “These students have demonstrated leadership potential in their classrooms,’’ she said. “Our job is to make sure that they are leading in the appropriate direction. To assist in this redirection, we have set them up with mentors from our community.”

 Orchestrated by Assistant Principal Maurice Simmons, the program kicked off near the beginning of the school year and has drawn 24 students so far. Simmons, who led a similar program at Sawgrass Bay Elementary School last year, recruited mentors for each participant. The men come to the school at 2:30 p.m. every Wednesday and participate with the boys in a whole group lesson, a mentor/mentee dialogue and a fun activity such as games, sports or reading together. Upcoming topics for the group lessons include “How Real Men Resolve Conflict,” “Why is Education Important,” “The ABCs of Leadership,” and “Engaging Law Enforcement Safely.”

 “These men take time from their professional and personal lives to come and pour into our boys,” Gelb said. “This guidance allows the boys to see proper role models in the Leesburg community.”