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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – We often hear about adults mentoring young people, taking them under their wing somehow and helping them grow to be their best selves. But at Coconut Creek High School teenagers mentor other teenagers in the school’s “Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders” program.

Older students like senior, Giovanni Rowe, mentor a younger student, like sophomore Jemsey Ambroise, teaching their schoolmate about respect, manners, and leadership.

“Each mentor is paired with a mentee,” explains Gio. “Like I’m paired with Jemsey, my boy Jemsey. Try to help them get through any problems that they’re having. Even if they’re slipping up with their grades, try to boost up their grades. Help them out. Tell them what’s right and what’s wrong.”

The young men dress up each Wednesday and meet up to spend time together.

On this particular Wednesday, they teach and learn how to correctly tie a tie, something they’ll need to look polished and professional.

Gio was inspired to become a mentor because he had a mentor of his own just a couple of years ago. He says he was much like Jemsey back then: Shy and quiet.

The combo of his mentor and his parent’s guidance helped Gio come out of his own shell.

“My parents also teach me how to be a role model, how to be a leader and not to be a follower,” says Gio.

While Jemsey doesn’t smile much and is painfully shy, when he talks about his favorite NASCAR driver, Martin Truex Jr. you can tell it’s what really makes him happy. It’s also something he teaches his mentor, Gio, about.

As a mentee, Jemsey says he’s started to make friends around school. He knows now Gio’s got his back and he has Gio’s.

“Me and him keep an eye on each other. Like he always wants me to be ok at all times,” Jemsey quietly says. “They keep an eye on you and that your classes are up to date. They can help you more and what strategies they can give you to help you. And what you can apply in the future to be a better person and adult. And try to be professional.”

So what’s the best advice Gio has given Jemsey?

“Don’t let others discourage you,” he says. “Always be yourself. It doesn’t matter what your appearance is or what you believe in,” says the sophomore.

“I just try to talk to him as much as I can. Whether we’re in the meeting or out of the meeting,” adds the senior.

With 2019 well underway, the duo is setting plans in motion for the year as their mentoring friendship continues. That includes Jemsey’s goal of becoming, among other things, a mentor himself in the program.

“It helps me more. Like I can talk to more people and act interactively. So it’s helping me accrue more friends,” Jemsey explains. “Trying to keep up with my grades and try to get more service hours before graduation. Outside from school, I go to a church at Sinai on Saturdays. I’m trying to get more spiritual and read the bible and study my lessons. So that’s what I’m trying to accomplish this year.”

“That’s all it’s about, just being yourself,” says his mentor. “Not only that. But I also wanna finish this new year strong. And just graduate and start my life. It’s very important to give back. If you give back so much good can come from it. Like say if I were to give back I just know something good is gonna happen from it. Like maybe not that day. But maybe months later or a year later. It feels great.”

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at mentoringmatters@cbs.com.

Click here for more Mentoring Matters.

— By Donna Rapado

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