‘Being different might motivate someone else to do the same’


November 28, 2023

Rutherford County Schools

LaVergne Middle social studies teacher Dr. Andres Rischer is in his 24th year in education.

Over the past year, Rischer has a group of middle school boys he has begun mentoring.

The Young Men of Distinction meet once a month to learn about leadership, manhood, respect and responsibility.

The meetings consist of the young men learning skills such as tying ties, introducing themselves to one another, and how to properly shake someone’s hand.

“They are so intentional,” Rischer said. “They take it seriously. This helps them grow and develop their leadership skills.”

Seventh-graders Hosea Beard, David Elam, and Jordan Hayes have all spent time learning from Rischer.

“I wanted to learn the traits of being a man, so in the future I will not be confused,” Beard said. “I’ll know what to do.”

Some of the students talked about the times that other students have poked fun at them for wearing ties to school, which happens each Tuesday.

“It’s okay to be different,” Hayes said. “Us being different and standing out might motivate someone else to do the same.”

Rischer said that he wants the boys to understand that they are all leaders.

“I don’t want to be a follower,” Elam said. “I want to stand out each day as a leader.”

The Young Men of Distinction aspire to start doing work in the community together outside of their school.

“This has been really good for me,” Hayes said. “It has helped me learn how to treat people in society.”