A passion for helping people succeed | PostIndependent.com

A passion for helping people succeed

Pre-Collegiate Mentors
Hailey Taylor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The Pre-Collegiate Program has been known to be a local gathering of teachers and mentors with one task at hand: preparing teenagers for college. It was precisely two years ago when the former principal of the Glenwood Springs High School, Michael Wells, received an offer to join the program. While working at Glenwood Springs Middle School as the assistant principal, he took this opportunity to continue helping students build up their chances to receive more than just a high school education, but also a college education.

Students turn to the Pre-Collegiate Program for many reasons. Some students have no desire to succeed in school or even finish. For most, college is becoming more unaffordable as the years progress. And others just struggle with grades in general.

When a student joins the program they are assigned to a mentor. This is someone who will make a plan fitted for them and their family to help them make the appropriate choices throughout their school career, and someone who will give them the encouragement needed to make them jump for opportunity before it walks away.

Now, two years after the program welcomed Wells into its learning environment, he is 60 years old and currently upholding the position of a mentor for a small team of eighth-grade students at Glenwood Springs Middle School. “I have had a long career and I am retired, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost passion for helping people succeed,” he says.

“It’s so rewarding even though it is a six-year commitment. It’s incredible how much you can learn from a student.” None of Wells’ Pre-Collegiate students have gone away for college so far because they’re still in middle school, but many of his past learners have when he was their principal.

“I have a full bookshelf with about 10 to 12 books written and autographed by some of my students that have gone off to college and are being successful. But it was disappointing when students came up to me and said that they quit and will just go and work in the coal mines and make a living that way, because back then that was legal and school wasn’t a requirement. But now there is only a handful of jobs available where people don’t have to have a high school diploma,” Wells explained. Wells believes that it is seen as a failure for a teacher when a student made the choice to drop out of school because a teacher’s job bears the responsibility to prepare the students for college, the world, their careers and where they will end up 30 to 40 years from now.

Wells said that his hardest challenge in high school was keeping an interest in many things they taught him and focusing on those subjects. He grew up in Chicago, where he enrolled at the University of Illinois after high school, and majored in political science. According to Wells, college was an expectation in his family: He had to go. But Wells never had a doubt that he wouldn’t make it.

Today, Wells stays active outside of the Pre-Collegiate Program by hosting yearly celebrations such as Miracle Monday, supporting the Glenwood Springs High School sporting teams, and traveling to many parts of the world such as Europe, England and around North America. Wells spends most of his other free time reading, enjoying the outdoors, and volunteering with the community and at events that capture his interest, one of which would be the Democratic National Convention.

After years of dedicated time and support given to our schools and community by Wells, he still continues to provide students the path of opportunity straight to college through the Pre-Collegiate Program.

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