Clearview students dress for success with Empowerment Wednesday

Published 7:55 pm Friday, January 11, 2019

Four years ago, Jerome Cofield decided to make a difference by providing a handful of neckties to Whitesville Elementary School students so that they could dress up one day a week for school. On Friday, Cofield joined with teachers, school administrators and business partners to take the program a step further by giving 57 students tailor made suits to wear on Empowerment Wednesdays.  

“Our boys here at Clearview, all 57 students [in Empowerment Wednesday] are receiving their very own tailor made three-piece suit,” Cofield said. 

The suits were donated by Robert Ford of Executive Men’s Suits. Ford returned Cofield’s payment for the suits in an unopened envelope during a presentation with the students and their parents on Friday.

“Jerome Cofield reached out to me and said he had a mentor program and this one suit company had let him down,” Ford said. “I said, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll step up and be there and take care of your boys.” 

Empowerment Wednesday began at Whitesville Road Elementary School, and Cofield and school administrators have reported great progress as the program has grown. 

In fall 2018, the program moved to CES, when WRES closed and Clearview Elementary School opened.

“This started four years ago,” Clearview Principal Debra Brock said. “Mr. Cofield was actually here with us the year prior to that, serving in the capacity of Communities In Schools [mentor], but when that was over, we saw the good work that he was doing with us at Whitesville Road and what an impact he was making on our boys. We offered him a position at Whitesville Road Elementary School as our behavior mentor, and that program was birthed from that point.”

Brock said that she was thankful for Ford’s donation and the impact it will have on Clearview students. Cofield said that he has already seen the difference that the program is making for students.

“We are seeing the behavior change in our school, and definitely the academic level of scores are changing,” Cofield said. 

While the program on Friday focused on young men at the school, the school also has a similar mentoring program for girls, which Brock hopes will be met with equal success.

“[Empowerment Wednesday] has grown from year to year, so we are very proud of it,” Brock said. “We want to continue this not only with our boys, but we have a girls group. Mrs. Tracy Morris is in charge of our girls mentoring group, Girls in Pearls. We want to continue to do the work we are doing. Our tagline here at Clearview Elementary School is, ‘Learners become leaders, and leaders change the world.’ That is what we are building here — great leaders and students that can take not only what they learn here, but take it out into the community.”

Ford said he hopes the donation will help the young men realize that they can gain respect through the clothes they wear. 

“The impact is to show them that you don’t have to wear your pants down,” Ford said. 

“You can dress for success and still not have people look down on you. Actually, you get more respect when you dress for success and dress the part. This is going to make 57 kids very successful with this program.”

To learn more about Empowerment Wednesday, visit @empowermentwednesday on Facebook.