skip to main content


Guest Voices: How Mentoring Helps Students Win in Life

May 22nd, 2020

headshot of Emerson Davis

As an associate pastor at Celebration Church at Columbia, Emerson Davis is responsible for the middle school ministry at the church. He mentors students at several schools through a partnership between the church and HCPSS. He is also a proud 1997 Oakland Mills High School graduate. Here, Davis writes about the partnership and why other organizations should consider establishing one with the school system.

As a staff member at Celebration Church, I have the responsibility of helping students “WIN in Life.” That responsibility extends beyond the four walls of the church to the local community. Over the years we have been fortunate to have strong relationships with several schools in Howard County.

On a Wednesday night in November 2017, Long Reach High School Principal Joshua Wasilewski and Assistant Principal Malcom Anderson visited our youth group and were greeted by the voices of many of their students. That night it was clear that a partnership needed to be established.

We established a weekly mentoring program for the students at Long Reach High School. Pastor Matthew Quainoo and Reverend Rhema (Davis) Irvine were instrumental in creating the relationship that we now enjoy. We work with Tonya Grice, Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP) liaison at the school, and support students in setting and working toward attainable goals to raise their level of academic achievement. We also spend time discussing the importance of making positive choices inside and outside of school, and provide students a safe space in which they can share their successes as well as their struggles.

The beauty of the mentoring program is, as we build trust with the students, we begin to see a transformation in their willingness to succeed. Students develop more confidence to seek tutoring assistance and speak to their teachers about assignments. The students strive to meet our charge to never settle for mediocrity. There have been challenges, but mentoring is a marathon and not a sprint. At Celebration Church, we are committed to supporting students throughout their journey.

The weekly mentoring program that began at Long Reach High School has expanded to three additional schools. The administrators and teachers have made us feel welcomed in every school we have visited. Every student is unique, and we believe in supporting them in becoming the individuals they were created to be. We value our partnership with the school system and look forward to our work together to build a stronger Howard County community.

Long Reach High School student Nyshay Battle explains how her participation in the mentoring program has supported her academic and personal growth. View enhanced transcript →