The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. – Steven Spielberg
Months after graduating from Huffman High School as the class of 2019’s salutatorian, Jarvis Prewitt raved over the phone not about football games or newfound independence, but about his love for the Birmingham Education Foundation. During Jarvis’s three years in Ed’s programs, he gained career and life readiness skills that inspired him with a clear sense of motivation and excellence. Sophomore year, through the Career Education program, Jarvis and a few other students enrolled into the Academy of Architecture and Construction, which exposed them to etiquette and public speaking skills, college preparation, and career readiness—not to mention professions that sparked their interests. The Career Education program also matched Jarvis with a personal mentor who invested in him and provided him with constructive criticism. Through those projects and activities, Jarvis learned how to pitch an idea under a given time constraint and grew more comfortable with public speaking.
Although sophomore year provided its own amazing array of opportunities, junior year
with Ed proved to be Jarvis’s favorite. During his penultimate year of high school, he participated in the NextGen Pitch Competition, where Birmingham City School teachers and students pitched project proposals on how to create a brighter future for Birmingham. For this contest, Jarvis collaborated with Ed’s Assistant to the Ed and Office Manager, Forté. Throughout the following 2-3 months, Jarvis received support, skills, and techniques that allowed him to be more viable, saying of his mentor Forté and her guidance, “She was the best.” For the proposal, Jarvis designed a maker-space lab that would help students to improve their skills by exposing them to the STEM disciplines. Ultimately, his idea and presentation outstripped his competitor Kamil Goodman, a sophomore at Parker High School, winning him the $5,000 grand prize.
As Jarvis prepared for his senior year, not only at Huffman but also as an Ed student, he participated in the Altec Challenge for Birmingham City School students. This competition prompted students to brainstorm ideas on how to improve the Birmingham City School systems. For this project, Jarvis was paired with Ed’s Executive Director, JW Carpenter, who served as a liaison and mentor for the competition. Recalling how JW ensured that Jarvis and his peers would excel in their next phases of life, Jarvis states, “[JW was] another great mastermind helping us to prepare for a competition with the small skills that are needed. I can’t thank him enough personally.” In tandem to the Altec Challenge, Jarvis also started searching and applying for scholarships, finding different opportunities and connections with JW’s help. Even now, as a freshman Mechanical Engineering major over 100 miles away at Alabama A&M University, Jarvis remains in contact with Ed’s staff: “The love and the support never stops. I’m always receiving information from Ed, they’re still right there with us.” Jarvis continues to strive for excellence and maintain motivation by balancing a 4.0 GPA with participation on the Rocket Team and membership in the National Society of Black Engineers. Over the next four years, he hopes to earn his degree, find a nice job within the Birmingham community, “lay a solid foundation for the next generation behind me, and to give back to the community and Ed.”
As an alumnus of the Ed Foundation and the Birmingham City School system, Jarvis recognizes how the staff at Ed establish sustaining relationships with students, pair them with the right networks and exposure, and prepare students for the workforce through competitive programs: “More school systems need to have an organization like Ed to give students an opportunity to get early access to the skills they need to be successful in life.” Ed seeks to equip all Birmingham City Students with the skills needed to experience success in multifaceted ways and Jarvis anticipates a promising future for Birmingham, a vision in which his role and Ed’s are irrevocably intertwined: “I am Ed.”