HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 6, 2012 – As a coach for a youth basketball team and a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ben Oxenberg, a junior education major at High Point University, saw a need for positive male role models in the lives of young boys.
So when his Service Learning professor Dr. Sarah Weiss told him that Rashad Slade, intern principal for Johnson Street Global Studies, was interested in starting a boy’s mentor program, Oxenberg took the opportunity to create “Big Man on Campus.”
The mission of “Big Man on Campus” is to provide fifth through eighth grade boys a positive male role model and the opportunity to hold themselves to a higher standard. There are currently more than 40 boys involved, and it continues to grow.
Oxenberg meets with boys one-on-one throughout the week and as a group every two weeks. During the time with the boys, Oxenberg talks to them about keeping up their grades, developing confidence and setting goals. He wants them to know that good things happen to good people.
Oxenberg based the program on an incentive system. When the boys complete tasks such as bringing their report card to a meeting or getting permission slips signed, they get rewarded. Incentives include group bowling or laser tag, and Oxenberg has seen a lot of success so far.
“This program has made quite an impact on the students because of our expectations,” says Slade. “I see students demonstrating proper behavior in school and completing the various responsibility tasks that are assigned. The guys know that we monitor their grades, so we have conversations about areas of improvement, and how we can help them.”
Next semester, Oxenberg will be training freshmen and sophomore education majors to be mentors to help the program grow.
“This program not only enhances my education as an elementary education major, but it defines it,” says Oxenberg. “I’ve always gravitated towards working with those students who faced their own unique challenges, but in the normal classroom setting you can’t pick and choose who you work with. This whole situation has benefitted my future, and for that I am truly grateful.”