Knoxville teen mentor program first of its kind in Tennessee

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Some students at South Doyle High School are getting a unique chance at a mentoring program that is the first of its kind in Tennessee.

It is through Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee and is called Mentor 2.0.

Tony Geist is a mentor. Ethan Frazier is his mentee. They have become fast friends over the past year, bonding at first over a love for baseball.

“He was like ‘I play baseball,’ and I was like ‘oh great baseball!’ Awesome, that’s my thing! So what do you think about the Red Sox? He was like I love the Red Sox! Dude, you’re like my best friend now,” Geist said.

Ethan wanted to get involved with Mentor 2.0 right away.

“I went and told my mom and she was like you can go and I was like yes!” he said.

This program is only in its second year in our state. It specifically targets high school students and right now is focused at South Doyle High School.

The number of kids involved has more than doubled this year to nearly 140.

“We’re focusing on college readiness or any kind of post-secondary education, preparation for these students,” said Mentor 2.0 Program Director Whitney Baker.

Baker explained how the program uses technology to connect the mentors and mentees. They have an online forum to facilitate conversation and even an app to chat through.

“It’s just like a Facebook messenger window and that is what is available on the app,” Baker said.

They connect at least once a week online and once a month in person, but for those involved, it is more than just a message back and forth.

“Tony has just helped me get through a lot of stuff like troubles I go through in my life a lot,” Frazier said.

They are learning a little about themselves along the way.

“I get to learn from him just as much as he gets to learn from me. So I’m the adult, yeah I’ve lived those situations, so there’s a lot of things that I can help out with but at the same time for it it’s a chance to kind of grow and see what things I would need to prepare myself if I were ever going to have kids some day,” Geist said.

If you or your child would like to get involved with the Mentor 2.0 program, just contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee at (865)523-2179.

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