Jeff Roberts was busy Tuesday.
A social studies teacher at New Tech Academy at Wayne High School, he spent much of the day traveling to Fort Wayne Community Schools' four other high schools: North Side, South Side, Snider and Northrop.
At each stop, he met with students – 20 from each school, including Wayne, for a total of 100 – who will take part beginning Friday in the Pave the Path Leadership Summit, a two-day conference at the University of Saint Francis Keith Busse School of Business downtown.
Organized by nonprofits 4Ward and Believe in a Dream, the gathering runs through Saturday and will include meetings with mentors and keynote speakers discussing leadership and entrepreneurship.
Roberts, who founded mentoring group 4Ward, helped organize the summit, which was first held last year. He said the goal is for students to learn about themselves through self-reflection, building a personal brand and identifying strengths.
“Humble, hungry and smart” students are chosen by school leaders to participate, Roberts said.
“It really doesn't matter what walk of life they come from,” he said. “Our target group is those groups of kids that have stayed humble and stayed hungry.”
Students will work to come up with and plan projects to better their schools, neighborhoods, city and world, according to information provided by organizers.
Robert Johnson, 40, owns Bukal Beverage Co. and will mentor students beginning Friday. He said he could have used a mentor in high school.
“When I was that age, I had no idea what I wanted to do in life,” Johnson said.
Carlos Cruz of Fort Wayne Futsal said he knows the value of mentors from personal experience. Some coaches helped him escape what he called “tough times” as a young man in Hammond to come to Fort Wayne to enroll at the University of Saint Francis and play soccer.
“I grew up a lot like these kids that have some potential,” Cruz said. “But without somebody to help guide them – it's something kids need more of these days.”
Information about the gathering is available at www.wepavethepath.org.