KCPS superintendent rallies for more male mentors

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Eleven-year-old Jake Escareno and his buddies have a lot in common. The boys love playing basketball, having fun and being outside. However, the one thing thy’re missing is a mentor.

”I think it would be nice to have to help guide me and do the things I like to do,” Jake said.

”I just like to be full of kindness and be playful. You know play football with me and stuff, “said  11-year-old Damian Buenrostro.

”We do not have enough men of color,” said Dr. Mark Bedell, the superintendent for Kansas City Public Schools.

Dr. Bedell is on a mission to recruit more black, Hispanic and other minority men for the school district’s mentoring program he launched a year ago.

During an event Thursday night at Metropolitan Community-College Penn Valley,  Dr. Bedell urged a diverse groups of professional men to take a stand, become a mentor and take time to change a young boy’s life.

“You don’t have to be super hero. You don’t have to make a lot of money. You don’t have to be a member of the media. What’s important to me is that you just have a  heart for kids,” Dr. Bedell said.

”And it really doesn’t take a whole lot of time,” said Kansas City Police Officer Octavio Villalobos. Officer Villalobos is thrilled to be a mentor for the school district.

”I think anyone who has a little extra time, who can come down and be a positive influence in a young man’s life, it would just be awesome,” said Officer Villalobos.

”I just want one right now,” said Damian.

”Yeah, it would be nice. He can keep me out of trouble,” said Jake.

Currently, about two-dozen minority men are hanging out with the kids, doing all kinds of cool things. Anyone who wants to become a volunteer and give a little of his time can get details at this link, or call (816) 418-7676.