By Rachel Wion
When a police officer takes the time to work with students as a mentor, it makes a vast difference in their lives, especially the lives of at-risk students. Officer Anthony Jones of Philadelphia is proof of that difference. He has spent years as an after-school mentor for the students at Philadelphia’s Germantown High School and the results have been rewarding for both Jones and the students.
Germantown was classified as a district-run turnaround school according to the Department of Education. There were 11 of these school which were called Promise Academies. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia introduced the Step It Up! mentoring program to help improve the odds for the students to build a better life. Jones was one of the first mentor volunteers in the program.
Using a tough love approach, Jones works to help his students build responsibility, trust, compromise, and focus in their lives. They are his kids and he cares about them. Jones listens to what is happening to the students. He sits with them, teaches, talks and listens as they need him. He is a surrogate parent for students who have no role models at home, and he loves celebrating their successes when they call him after graduation to tell him of a new accomplishment.
Being a police officer means that Jones has seen a lot of the problems that the students have had to deal with in life. He understands and cares, while offering them time and support. As a mentor, he is a friend, someone to confide in, counselor, and guide. In doing this, he changes their lives forever.