Lewis School of Excellence formed a partnership with Mr. Mendenhall in 2016-2017 when he volunteered to be our 8th grade graduation speaker. In his speech, he spoke of his hardships, adversities and the power of never giving up. He captured our students with his message and gave them hope through the story of his journey. When we were presented with the opportunity to have Mr. Mendenhall mentor our young men in the 6th-8th grade we jumped at the chance.
In the first session, our students were shocked that they were speaking to someone who played in the NFL and they wanted to focus solely on how he made it, but Mr. Mendenhall used this interest as a catalyst into pushing our student’s thinking about success. While in sessions he asked them questions about who they are and their purpose in life is. Many of our students were not able to respond since these were questions they never considered. When they tried to make light of the questions he pushed their thinking and opened the conversation for powerful dialogue and reflection. Our students participated in multiple Lunch and Learn sessions as well as the Male Seminar Series. Our young men learned about life, the choices they make, the friendships they build and how all these parts impact their future. These conversations led them one step closer to becoming more focused, determined, and mindful of their actions. As a school community, we are truly thankful for the support he has given the young men of the Austin neighborhood and members of the Lewis family.
Aquabah Gonney Principle Lewis School of Excellence Chicago, IL