Monarch Academy, a Baltimore charter school, has begun working with Morgan State University in order to introduce its students to higher education. With two programs, ASHE and College Explorers, Monarch provides its students with emotional and academic support while also exposing them to positive example of higher education.

Students at Baltimore’s Monarch Academy work with mentors from Morgan State University. (Photo by Janneh G. Johnson)

Yoeanna Ambrose, a teacher at Monarch Academy and the program coordinator, spoke to the AFRO about her relationship with the program. Monarch Academy is a series of charter schools in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. operated by TranZed Alliance, a Baltimore based non-profit focused on kids with special needs. The Morgan State University Office of Community Service coordinates the College Explorers and ASHE with Monarch Academy. Brittany Laws is Morgan’s program coordinator.

“Morgan currently offers a program called College Explorers to our students which takes place four times a week. Morgan buses students to and from Monarch Academy and the students visit Morgan to get academic support and shadow a student. ASHE is for the students who can’t go to Morgan State for various reasons so that the mentors can be brought to them.”

The College Explore program began earlier this year and the students who have been a part of it have experienced less behavioral and academic issues while also exposing students to the realities of college life and sparking an interest in higher education, according to Ambrose.

The average ASHE day includes 2 hours where the students are tutored by their mentors in either math or reading and time for the students to discuss other things as well, such as personal problems or other academic subjects.

“A lot of my kids learn lessons from their mentors that effect their performance, like one of my eighth-grade girls had a conversation with her mentor about the school to prison pipeline and how standardized testing plays a part in negative stereotypes and funding and she said that she wanted to put her best foot forward on the state exams so it wouldn’t be said that Baltimore students can’t read or aren’t intelligent due to a lack of effort.”

Kai  Innam, a senior at Morgan State who has worked with the ASHE program plans to continue mentoring even after graduating.

“I’ve been working with the program for about ten weeks and I’m so hopeful that this will impact the kids in a positive way because this is something I want to do past my graduation. I want to keep helping these kids because they’re amazing, they just need to have someone by their side showing them support. That one on one attention boosts their confidence and that helps their performance,” Innam told the AFRO.

“It’s a give and take experience. I’ve learned patience and I’ve learned to be more understanding and I really have a new appreciation for teaching kids at the middle school level.”

Myonna Simpkins, an eighth-grade student enrolled at Monarch Academy, plans to pursue her Doctoral degree, and become an OB-GYN and believes that this program will help her do so.

“I’ve learned a lot about the positive parts of college and the do’s and don’ts. Our mentors aren’t that much older than us so I’ll be going through the same things they’re going through. I want to become the same things that they want to become,” Simpkins said.