Richard Grayes is the former principal of Clair Mel Elementary School. He has been an employee of Hillsborough County Schools for over 19 years. Mr. Grayes is a leader who continuously strives to improve himself and was recently accepted in the Turnaround Schools Specialist Degree Program in partnership with HCPS and USF.
Last school year, one of Clair Mel Elementary School’s focus was on improving school culture. As a result, Mr. Grayes reached out to Ross Anderson founder of the Men of Vision mentorship program, in an effort to begin an elementary chapter for 4th and 5th grade boys at his school.
Mr. Grayes, his AP, and a PE coach began by having teachers recommend boys who needed guidance AND boys who were already excelling academically and socially. The identified students had to write an essay along with completing the other application information. A structure was created so that students would have an activity associated with the Men of Vision program, at least 4 times per week, including activities like Mentoring Day and Dress for Success Day. The students experienced great pride because of the positive attention that they received. The boys who initially needed guidance were able to experience positive reinforcements instead of the negative consequences…and the boys who were already excelling also made strides and were identified as student leaders on campus.
Mr. Grayes admits that it was sometimes difficult for him, and the other organizers, to keep up with all the daily activities of the program along with all their other responsibilities. But they are definitely up for the challenge again, for this school year, because the benefits out way the challenges. Clair Mel is currently the only elementary-age chapter in the Men of Vision program. Their program experienced great success and earned the title as – Club of the Year! As a result, 3rd grade boys will be added to the group for the 2016/17 school year.
Mr. Grayes’ words of advice, “Do your research. Do not try to reinvent the wheel—reach out to others who have had success. Start small and get a good, solid program in place before expanding with members.”