National Mentor Month

All around the world different months of the year are given “month-long observances.” April is Autism Awareness month, February is Black History month, and July is even known as National Ice Cream month. One observance that is close to our heart is National Mentor month which takes place this month. Firewall Centers wouldn’t be what it is today without the faithful mentors who show up day after day to serve our students. Our AmeriCorps Firewall mentors put their heart and soul into helping students achieve academic success, build character, and transform into servant leaders.

The mentors at Firewall are college and post-college students who are AmeriCorps members and amazing role models to the students of Broward County. They make such an impact on the students that we serve, but the students are also impacting the mentors every day. It is so rewarding and encouraging to the mentors when students that they have been investing in show improvement in their grades and character.

One of our previous Firewall mentors, John, enjoyed playing a role in helping high school students realize their full potential. “I was ecstatic about the opportunity to work with young people. High school students should be filled with hopefulness and optimism about the future. Unfortunately, many at-risk youth are shackled by low expectations and have a low opinion of their abilities. At Firewall, I saw firsthand the life-changing power of mentoring. We help students visualize themselves as the next doctors, lawyers, police officers, and mechanics by working with students to develop a concrete plan that make their dreams a realistic achievement,” said John.

We currently have 60+ mentors serving at our different centers and will need even more for next year. Recruitment for mentors will begin in the next few months. If you have ever had an interest in becoming a Firewall mentor, consider applying this year.

To all of our mentors, thank you for your service.


Student to Mentor: Why Mentoring Matters

Our Firewall Mentors are the core of what we do to transform students into servant leaders. Some of our best mentors are Firewall alumni. They are servant leaders and incredible role models for our students.

This year, we are excited to have a mentor who graduated from our Western High program, Zack Ortega. He has been a part of Firewall from the 7th grade through high school graduation.

Firewall mentors helped him academically and in developing positive social and behavioral skills throughout his middle and high school years. During High School, he struggled with academics and Firewall mentors were there to tutor him and keep him focused on his work.
Zack is now enrolled at Broward College. He is studying Emergency Medical Services with plans to become a firefighter. Zack serves at our Flamingo Elementary center, tutoring and mentoring a group of students who are much like he was growing up.

When asked about his experience as a Firewall mentor Zack said, “Working at Firewall has given me more patience then I could have ever imagined, especially with the elementary school kids. Now that I am a mentor, I understand exactly what my mentors were thinking. The best thing about working at Firewall is seeing the students grow.”

We couldn’t agree more, Zack. Way to go!

Meet the Mentors – Pt. 1


Firewall Centers sat down with Nirmel to learn about all his experience as a Mentor at Firewall. 


Q: How long have you been working for Firewall Centers?

Nirmel: This would actually be my second year. I was also a mentor for my first year at Western High School. I honestly prefer working with high school because that’s where my heart is at; it’s where I want to teach because I want to be a History teacher.


Q: What made you want to return and continue your role as a mentor?

Nirmel: One, because I like the job. Two, because I like having the work experience and I want to build on that experience as well. Since I want to be a teacher…continuing my role as a mentor will prepare me for it. Teaching is where my calling is, where my passion is, and history is my favorite subject. You can make so many good discussions, arguments, or lessons from history.


Q: What is the hardest part of being a mentor?

Nirmel: The hardest part is classroom/behavior control because you have to adapt to the individual as well as the general group of students you’ll have. If they’re all rowdy, you have to tell them to be quiet or if one is being rowdy, you have to tell that one person to be quite while handling the others simultaneously.


Q: Any advice to adapt with these issues for different students? 

Nirmel: Really try to have patience, because if you don’t you’re not going to help the situation at all. Also, don’t be offended by what they say because know that (1) they’re students and kids and you’re the adult and (2) their words have no power over you. You want to make the situation better, but if you get offended you’re going to make the situation worse.


Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a mentor?

Nirmel: It’s seeing, especially at the end of the year, how much growth the student has made in terms of their grades, but also in terms of their character and even in self-esteem. Also, on a spiritual level as well.


Q: What is something that a mentor should expect at their Center? 

Nirmel: A mentor should expect to be ‘tried’. Students will pick at a lot of different aspects of your life when in actuality it’s not true. Also, mentors should expect outbursts from students especially in a middle school environment because students are more vocal.


Q: Any advice for future mentors?

Nirmel: As I said before, have the patience, but also know that you’re not just doing this for the pay. You’re doing this to make an impact in the student’s life because you’ll practically be like their older brother or sister and literally their mentor to show them from right to wrong. You are the voice that tells them how things should and should not be and an ear to listen to. You never know what a student could be going through. You’re going to be part of their lives.




Thank you for all you do Nirmel!