Brooklyn Democracy Academy is a transfer high school (a partnership with the Department of Education and JCCA), which supports older, under-credited students who have dropped out or fallen behind. It uses specially-trained Advocate Counselors who give the students the extra attention and support they need.

Brooklyn Democracy Academy student Monei and Tashawnne, her counselor, started a relationship that matured into a labor of both love and discovery.

Monei, 18 years old, has two children who are 4 and 6. She had failed in other high schools and stopped going to school altogether. Then she went to Brooklyn Democracy Academy and met Tashawnne, a graduate of Spelman College. At first, Monei was shy and withdrawn, but Tashawnne drew her out and worked with her. Through training, patience and understanding, Tashawnne worked hard to build a supportive relationship. She became Monei’s alarm clock and her cheerleader. Over time, Monei began to trust Tashawnne and said she was her “Big Sister.” They discussed many topics from positive parenting, college and employment to building healthy relationships and conflict resolution. Monei also confided concerns to Tashawnne about her children and Tawshanne helped get her children enrolled in school.

Tashawnne also encouraged Monei to participate in college tours and school field trips that opened Monei’s world up to new possibilities. In addition, Tashawnne helped arrange car fare, clothing, rides to appointments and even assistance with buying furniture. After just a year at the school, Monei’s life turned around and she began to discover her untapped potential and strength to achieve her goal of a high school diploma. She blossomed and achieved an 86% GPA while becoming a dynamic student and mentor for other students. In the fall, she is going to Medgar Evers College and plans to go to nursing school to become a delivery nurse. Monei has overcome great odds and is poised “to achieve her potential and realize her greatness,” as Tashawnne puts it.