CIS Student Success Stories
Class of 2017
West Charlotte High School
Joseph "Joe" Teah, a senior at West Charlotte High School, will brighten your day with his charm and his mega-watt smile. Meeting him today, one would be surprised to learn the nickname some students at West Charlotte gave him two years ago: the "smart thug." Fortunately, that nickname did not stick and no longer applies to Joe.
Two years ago when Joe was in the 10th grade, he was arrested – twice. Both times, according to Joe, were due to his own “dumb decisions” and “hanging with the wrong people.” During his second stint at Jail North, he met our Jail North/Re-entry Counselor, Ladonte Lee. He credits Mr. Lee for giving him a “wake up call,” convincing him that this was not the way his life should play out, living in a cell for the rest of his life, not knowing “when he’d see daylight again.” Joe told him he was willing to turn his life around if he could go back and have another chance at his high school (West Charlotte). That’s where Mr. Lee connected Joe to George Metz, our CIS Youthful Offenders Counselor at West Charlotte High School. Here’s Joe in his own words describing how Mr. Metz has impacted him:
“I grew up with a weak mindset that I would be nothing in life. I didn’t have a father; he died when I was 7 years old. My mother is working all the time. So meeting Mr. Metz, I immediately took him as a father figure, I guess because seeing him as a black male like myself who was successful, he inspired me to be a better me. He became my father, my brother, my mentor. Mr. Metz taught me how to be a man from just simple things, like how to tie a tie. Most of all, he taught me that the choices I make today will affect me tomorrow.”
Joe says one of the biggest ways Mr. Metz has impacted him is his consistency, always being there for him, and holding him accountable. “Just him coming to check up on me in all of my classes, knowing that he wants me to do better, it motivates me,” said Joe. Joe is smart (for this interview he was excused from his AP Statistics class!) - and he’s had good grades in the past, but says his “behavior was poor and no one held me accountable for anything.”
Mr. Metz got Joe involved in a male mentoring group, “Men for Meck,” where he has a male mentor – but the students in the group are expected to pass it on and mentor other students. Now Joe wants to be an inspiration and role model for others, and this past fall he began mentoring two 9th graders (twin brothers) at West Charlotte. Joe has also begun sharing his story with younger CIS students at some of our elementary and middle school sites. (Mr. Metz says Joe’s recent visit with a group of CIS students at Walter G. Byers School was a big hit.)
Mr. Metz also encouraged Joe to get involved at school and in the community and start thinking about college. Joe made up for lost time and threw himself into sports and school events. He joined the swim team his junior year and the football team his junior and senior years. His male mentor group has had such an impact on him that he did his Senior Project on Mentorships. Joe is personable and popular with students – he was nominated for Homecoming King, student council, and a number of other things. One could see him going into a range of careers, but Joe is most interested in computer engineering. He has already received a full scholarship offer to Wingate University, and has been accepted to NC A&T and North Carolina Central Universities so far. He’ll be the first in his family to attend college.
With support from Mr. Lee, Mr. Metz, his mentor and caring teachers at West Charlotte, Joe is making good choices today. We can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds for him!