Every Thursday, former L.A.P.D. Officer and founder of Boys 2 Gentlemen (B2G) Keith Linton gathers after school with 40 Black, African American, and Latino scholars at Alliance Jack H. Skirball Middle School (Alliance Skirball) to create a safe space for conflict resolution, social-emotional development, self-reflection, and inclusion.
“If students feel they belong and are wanted on campus then we see learning and attendance increase as behavior issues decrease,” explains Officer Linton. He began his relationship with the school in 2014 as a mentor before creating and implementing B2G in partnership with Principal Marco Ibarra. Officer Linton and Mr. Ibarra have developed a close relationship and often confer on scholar progress. They use performance and attendance data to help inform recruitment efforts for B2G, targeting those scholars most in need of a positive outlet. Aside from B2G, Officer Linton also does classroom observations throughout the week and addresses scholars with behavior issues who may need additional support.
Officer Linton uses his personal experiences such as growing up in New York housing projects, observing the school-to-prison pipeline firsthand while patrolling neighborhood schools, and residing for over 17 years in Watts, to connect with scholars in the B2G program. He created the program in order to build a community where scholars have a voice, see themselves represented in their mentor, have a positive experience with a police officer and can develop positive coping mechanisms to deal with trauma. He preaches to his scholars, however, that they are “not to think of themselves as victims, but instead take ownership of themselves and their community.”
For Black History Month, Officer Linton has provided all B2G participants with special tee-shirts and will take the scholars on “mental trips” throughout history wherein he asks scholars to close their eyes as he depicts different scenes through the years. He notes that while most scholars know about such iconic figures are Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. there is little emphasis on the ancient history of Black and African American ancestry in school. He will start his teachings with the slaves of Egypt so as to build empathy and a greater understanding of the past. This focus on empathy has impacted how scholars in B2G deal with conflict and take ownership of their own actions.
Positive role models like Officer Linton are developing the next generation of leaders and help scholars write their own histories!
For more information on B2G, click here.