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When McCallie alumni, friends, and parents in the New York area recently picked up their community newspapers or viewed the local TV news, they were surprised to hear that their school in way-off Chattanooga was getting prominent notice (even if one newscaster mispronounced McCallie, using the hard “a” accent).
The story focused on McCallie ninth grade boarding student Jonathan Manta and his older brother Michael, who last year formed a non-profit organization to provide student mentors in some of New York’s more selective public and private high schools to assist “underprivileged, underserved, and high achieving” middle school students in learning how to navigate the process of finding and applying for admission to those selective high schools. The organization, called NYC Mentors, is now spreading into schools across New York’s boroughs and, as the news stories indicate, is gaining a lot of public attention and public response.
And the whole idea came to the two brothers, sons of Constantin and Liliana Manta, who are active parent volunteers for McCallie, when Michael began mentoring his young brother on how to find the best secondary school for him. That search for Jonathan did not lead to a prestigious inner-city school in New York, such as the one Michael is enrolled in, but to the equally prestigious McCallie School.
“I never considered boarding schools until McCallie showed up,” said Jonathan. “The admissions office had left us some material about McCallie and Michael suggested that I take a look at it.” That beginning led to Jonathan being selected for admission through the Michaels-Dickson Scholarship Program. Based on that experience, the two brothers saw a need to help other students in their high school placement search. And now, the McCallie boarding experience is one of their recommendations.
Michael, who is a high school senior, is leading the effort from New York, but Jonathan, who is a nationally ranked chess champion, lends a lot of assistance from his dorm room at McCallie.
Their web page is NYCMentors.org.