Mentoring matters at Margate Middle School
Margate Middle School Behavior Tech Keith Span addresses Spartans Mentoring Group during a recent rap session as Margate Middle School Resource Officer Andrea James, from the Margate Police Department looks on.
By Charles Moseley
There’s an old African Proverb that reads, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Arguably today more than ever this proverb is particularly significant given the present state of affairs regarding family structure and some significant issues which are having a negative impact on youth both near and far, throughout America.
That being said, there are men and women from all walks of life who have taken it upon themselves to do more than just talk about the problem. Thou-sands of dedicated individuals are involved in mentoring programs which are bridging the gap where necessary in order to give young people a better chance at life. One such individual is a gentleman by the name of Keith Span. Span presently serves as the Behavior Tech at Margate Middle School, but depending on what time of day it is, you may find him acting as a father figure to some –a coach to others- and a counselor providing a sympathetic ear to yet another young person experiencing a personal dilemma.
According to Span it comes with the territory. What he does to help young people extends far beyond his job title but by all accounts appears to be a labor of love. As he goes about his daily duties, he often navigates from situation to situation with the precision of a surgeon employing tough love where war-ranted or often more times than not, sage advice to those in need of an empathetic ear or more gentle guidance.
“We started the Margate Middle school mentoring pro-gram about six years ago. When my principal Mr. Toliver, Ms. Ragin and I felt the need to provide a program for those students that needed social/ emotional support, especially with the rise in negative publicity between police and communities they serve. I wanted to add a social initiative component to the program, reaching out to the Margate Police Department to ask officers to volunteer as mentors to our students on a weekly basis. This addition to the program is working great.”
Span works closely with teachers, administrators and fellow mentors in order to provide the services necessary to help students reach their full potential. Two co-workers included Margate Middle School Vice-Principal Roddamiel Daniel and Kery Cerne, Program Director for the Crockett Foundation Mentoring Program. Each of them touted the benefits that mentoring provides students.
“Students at this school are at a very impressionable time in their lives. By providing them with positive role models that they may not have at home or in their community environment makes it easier to identify with these role models,” said Daniels.
“Mentors partner with the Margate Police Department weekly. We explain to them the benefits of empowering them to have better self-esteem, empowering them to make the right choices, empowering them to have foresight in the consequences of certain choices and the repercussions,” added Cerne.
Span is a second generation native Floridian, born in Dania, Fla where he lived for seven years until he moved with his mother, father and two brothers to Oakland Park, FL. Keith attended Rickards Middle School and Northeast High School. He then went on to college, and graduated in 1990 from FAMU (Tallahassee, FL) with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
Span’s career working with children in South Florida was as a counselor for Boys in Fort Lauderdale. His career with the School Board of Broward County began in 1994 at Wingate Oaks working with the exceptional students there.
“I started in education after working for a nonprofit organization in Broward County, where I was the single house parent for about sixteen teenage males with severe emotional problems. At that time I developed a deep passion to work with students.”
Span has always focused his talents with behaviorally challenged students and moved from Wingate to Perry Middle and then Sunrise Middle working with SVE students.
Now at Margate Middle School, where he has been since 2004, Span’s current position as the school’s Behavior Tech, allows him to work with all students, in addition to the ESE population. Since 2010, Span has worked closely with the ad-ministration at the school to develop a mentoring program for boys and girls. The program works to improve students academically, behaviorally and social/emotionally. In addition to the mentoring work at Margate Middle during the day, Keith also works after school for the Crocket Foundation’s after school program where he has the opportunity to work with students in small groups to continue academic and behavior interventions.
“When it comes to my students I don’t see or face any challenges. I become so focused and most of all I am always speaking to them about problem solving. So I must be able to problem solve as an example for them.”
“My proudest moments are when past students come back to see me and we talk about their accomplishments- ‘PRICELESS!”