BALTIMORE - Richard Stokes is not your average Teaching Assistant. He is also a mentor at New Hope Academy in West Baltimore. Stokes is a 2011 graduate of New Hope Academy.
He faced academic and behavioral issues, but changed things around with proper guidance and instruction. He has returned to help other students.
"I stay in Ms. Jordan's class to help the students. They get frustrated sometimes. I take them for walks. I talk to them in the hallways because I can really relate to these students," said Richard Stokes, Mentor and Teaching Assistant at New Hope Academy.
New Hope Academy started in 2008 as a partnership between Specialized Education Services Incorporated and Baltimore City Public Schools.
The middle and high school serves students with emotional disabilities. Many of the inner city students face tough issues at home. Stokes helps them focus on academics.
"I can see what they go through sometimes. I see how they feel when they come to school," said Stokes.
Kevin Johnson was struggling in class, but talking to Richard has put him on a better path.
"It was really rough. I have aggression problems and I am quick to fly off the handle. I can't respect authority figures, but now that Mr. Richard is here. It is easier for me to respect authority," said Kevin Johnson, an eighth grade student at New Hope Academy.
Administrators say Stokes is a wonderful role model and a good influence on students.
"We see that the students here they are not to far apart in age from Richard so they have a lot of respect for what he has to say to them," said James Young, Senior Director of New Hope Academy.
New Hope Academy serves approximately 200 students.