“Iron sharpens iron” The impact of culturally responsive mentoring on at-risk minority female students.
For the last thirty years, the national high school completion rate has remained the same. Once leading the world in the number of students completing high school, the United States now ranks 17th globally (National Center for Education Statistics , 2019). High school completion rates are lower for minority and low-income female students as these students are far more likely to leave before completing high school than children from affluent families. At-risk minority female students struggle to balance meeting family expectations and the expectations society places on them. Societal and family expectations take a toll on girl’s well-being and aspirations, and these girls struggle to find their place in society. Female students often feel disconnected from the learning environment when there is no genuine connection to an adult. The lack of engagement leads to disciplinary concerns resulting in a disproportionate amount of out-of-school suspension for risk-minority girls; thus, contributing to the achievement gap and low graduation rates. This multiple qualitative case study design highlighted the significant impact of a culturally responsive mentoring program, Creating Honest and Respectful Role Models (CHARRM), had on four at-risk minority female students seven years after completing the mentorship. Former CHAARM participants provided insight into their experiences in the mentorship through one-on-one interviews. The researcher analyzed themes that emerged related to the impact of CHAARM to determine how culturally responsive mentoring helped empower participants to complete high school, become productive members of society, attain and strengthen internal and external assets for at-risk minority female students. Exposing at-risk minority female students to meaningful experiences and authentic relationships proved beneficial to their self-image and resilience. Culturally responsive mentoring programs met the socio-emotional and cultural needs of the participants. Findings from the current study demonstrated the need for schools to implement culturally responsive mentorships to improve graduation rates for at-risk minority females and helped them become productive members of society.