‘A Diamond in the Rough’: High school senior starts mentoring program for younger students

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn — A Houston High School Senior is paying it forward in a new way. Collin Siddell created his own program called ‘A Diamond in the Rough’ to mentor students.

The 17-year-old told FOX13 he wanted to show younger kids they could be successful, and they didn’t have to wait they were all grown up to do it.

Siddell has been connecting students with business owners like Kat Gordon at Muddy’s Bake Shop so they can learn what it takes to be successful in the real world.

“Right now, you can start looking at how to run a business by looking around the places you go to and say what would be helpful,” Gordon said.

‘A Diamond in the Rough’ mentorship program at Dexter Elementary School teaches third through fifth graders financial literacy, decision-making skills and how to be a leader.

“They want to be better, so they’re getting the first step,” Siddell said. “I can see them and their thought process of ‘ok, I see what other people are doing in class and they’re not acting right but I want to do better’ and you gotta start early.”

In middle school, Siddell said some of his teachers doubted him, so he turned that into the motivation to help young kids feel empowered.

“If people are doubting you, you’re doing something right. Just keep ongoing. If you know it’s good in your heart and people are doubting you, just keep pushing,” he said.

This is the program’s first year at Dexter Elementary.

Each month, the group meets with a different community member for a lesson.

This month, they learned how to run a business from the owner of Muddy’s Bake Shop.

Initially, Siddell said he thought only a few kids would attend but the program has about 50 students.

FOX13 asked Siddell how rewarding is it to see the success of this program so far.

“It’s pretty rewarding, but when you know the vision is way bigger, you don’t get too comfortable. So now that I see it’s getting good, it’s time to step on the gas and become even better,” he said.

Siddell told FOX13 he wants to expand the program to all the SCS elementary schools in the Cordova area, reaching 150 students.

He said he also wants to take the students on field trips.