John Larovera and Prince Brooks, mentor and mentee, have formed a strong bond over the years that has been strengthened through education, sports and life experiences.
Larovera, a Shelton native, first met Prince while teaching his fifth grade math class at John C. Daniels Magnet School in New Haven. He described himself as a strict teacher who held high expectations for his students.
“I didn’t want to be the most popular teacher, I wanted to be the teacher where the kids learned the most from,” said Larovera.
Brooks said math was not one of his strengths in school and he would review assigned material with Larovera after their class ended all throughout middle school.
The two began to build a bond over a common interest in sports and multiple conversations with each other. Brooks recalled a time when the two raced each other during recess, laughing at his surprise when the teacher first beat him in running.
When his time at John C. Daniels came to an end, Brooks expressed an interest in attending Notre Dame High School West Haven and playing football.
“Notre Dame is a very good [football] program. They played some of the best teams in the state year in and year out it was great competition for him and was something he needed,” Larovera said.
Larovera reached out to associates and came across a non profit organization called Shepherds that would make his aspirations of attending a school out of the New Haven area a possibility. The program helps inner-city students in the greater New Haven and Bridgeport area with mentorship and guidance on the process of attending non-public high schools.
Currently, Shepherds are working on getting students into Kolbe Cathedral High School, Bridgeport and Notre Dame High School, West Haven.
The program required a mentor for Brooks, he reached out and asked Larovera.
“He guided to give me a life that I need, to get over stuff if I needed someone to talk to,” said Brooks. “He was always there for me to talk to him.”
Brooks soon made it into Notre Dame where he had four successful years of education and football while always remaining in touch with his mentor. Larovera described it as one of the best moments of his life when Brooks chose him to be his mentor.
Prince graduated from Notre Dame in the class of 2016 and will further his education at Southern Connecticut State University, where he will also continue his football career.
“It helped me a lot to get the opportunity that you thought that you would never have. It’s a good program to go to,” said Brooks. “They keep you focused and keep you motivated. You see other kids graduate, if they could do it I could do it.”
For more information on Shepherds visit http://shepherdsmentors.org/.