The social injustices that we have been experiencing as both a community and a nation led to the formation of the MBS Black Alumni Alliance (BAA) in July of 2020. The Alliance is made up of approximately 70 Black alumni ranging in class years from 1973 – 2019. After watching videos and reading some of the stories that surfaced on social media last summer, this group formed organically out of their love for MBS and a desire to be part of the solution in creating positive and lasting change. The goal of the MBS Black Alumni Alliance is to “create a community that addresses the needs and concerns of all MBS students and alumni who identify as members of the African diaspora.” The BAA is “committed to building relationships that foster collaboration and a sense of belonging for Black students and alumni.”
One of the ways the BAA is addressing the needs and concerns of MBS students is through the formation of its Mentoring Program. Classmates Afi Daitey ’05 and Asia Mazara ’05 are the founding co-chairs of the program and they began working with Associate Director of Alumni Relations Monya Taylor '88 and Director of Diversity and Inclusion Klarissa Karosen in August of 2020 to design a program that would assist MBS Black students and their parents to have a successful and enjoyable Morristown-Beard School experience. Both women have extensive backgrounds in education. In addition to teaching, Ms. Mazara conceived and facilitated mentoring programs for the South Orange/Maplewood, Newark, Union and Hillside school districts. Ms. Daitey earned her master’s degree in International Education Policy from Harvard University and taught English Language Arts as a corps member in Teach for America prior to earning her master’s degree. Combined they have over 20 years of experience teaching and developing educational support programs.
Because this type of robust mentoring program is new for MBS, the entire framework is being created from scratch: including everything from developing mentor guidelines, mentee agreements, and parent consent forms to the program curriculum, duration and frequency of meetings, and communication parameters for mentors and mentees. Due to the extremely unusual nature of the 2020-2021 school year, the group has had to be quite flexible and pivot and adjust as needed. Currently the program is being offered to Black MBS Upper School students with plans to expand and mentor all Black students grades 6 – 12 beginning in September of 2022.
The program kicked off in November of 2020 with an introductory Zoom for the Black Upper School students. The purpose of this session was two-fold: to let the students know that this program was being offered and to encourage them to participate. The students were also asked to complete a survey to inform the program design. In December, there was a parent information session and the program officially launched in March 2021. The launch was well-attended and included a dynamic mix of students, alumni and parents. For the remainder of the School year meetings will be held monthly via Zoom. Meetings include music, breakout rooms for small group discussion, games and more.
Utilizing “The 4 C’s of Mentorship” – consultant, counselor, confidant and cheerleader, the goal of the Black Alumni Alliance mentoring program is to offer moral, academic, emotional, and financial support to current and future Black students. Beginning in September, students will be paired with their alumni mentors. Mentors will serve as a bridge between parents, students, and the MBS community. The Black Alumni Alliance wants every Black student to feel valued and know that they are enough and they belong at MBS. The BAA mentors also encourage students to take full advantage of the total MBS experience – academics, arts and athletics, ensuring that when they graduate the students have been “powerfully prepared for learning and for life!”
If you are interested in supporting or participating in the Black Alumni Alliance, please join the group on the MBS Alumni Networking Portal www.mbsconnect.net or send an email of interest to email@example.com.