Former Midlothian ISD Principal Now Managing Director At Mentors Care
Brian Blackwell has made a career out of caring for and mentoring young people.
So, it only made sense that when the opportunity came, he’d go to work for an organization named Mentors Care.
“I got involved with Mentors Care in the fall of 2020 as a volunteer, mentoring at Midlothian High School. I loved it and saw the impact that the program has on students, on schools, and on communities,” Blackwell, 55, said.
“When I made the decision to retire from Midlothian ISD, I knew that I still wanted to work. I compiled a list of jobs that interested me for my next chapter. Mentors Care rose to the top of that list.”
Blackwell is managing director for Mentors Care, a nonprofit created in 2009 with a mission to connect high school students who are at risk of not graduating with mentors, tools, and resources to help lead them toward graduation and purposeful lives.
A Career In Education
Blackwell had spent 28 years in education before joining the Mentors Care staff in Midlothian. His career began as a teacher and coach/athletic coordinator (football, basketball and track) in Midlothian in 1993 at Frank Seale Middle School, then he moved to Venus in 1998 for a couple years before returning to Midlothian as assistant principal and later principal at Frank Seale.
In 2005 he was named the first principal at Walnut Grove Middle School, where he served until his retirement in 2020.
Working at Mentors Care takes Blackwell back to the days when he worked with at-risk youth at the Arlington Boys and Girls Club when he was a business student at UT-Arlington. What started out as a part time job helped him find his passion for helping kids. He changed his major to education.
“I began working with at-risk youth in the fall of 1988. I was looking for a fun, part time job, and was hired by the Arlington Boys and Girls Club. My first role there was as a gym instructor,” Blackwell recalled. “I immediately knew that I was called to work with kids. Since I struggled as a teen with life and with school, I wanted to do something to pay it forward to struggling kids.
“What keeps me doing what I do and draws me to hurting kids is seeing the impact that we can have on students who are having a tough time. Seeing them be successful is so rewarding.”
After he did some additional volunteer work speaking at education events on behalf of the program, Dena Petty, founder and Executive Director of Mentors Care, offered him a position.
Blackwell said everything he did as a school administrator prepared him for his work with Mentors Care.
“In my new role, I still get to lead people, serve them, work with students, organize events, analyze data, manage a budget, and make decisions that positively impact our kids,” he said.
Volunteer Work Runs In The Family
Blackwell, originally from Dallas, comes from a helping family. His mother, after retiring from AT&T, took over as the director of the Senior Citizens of Red Oak.
“She loved serving the elderly, making sure that they had food, and that their physical needs were met. She planned social events for the seniors each week. She enjoyed planning field trips for them as well. She impacted many lives through her volunteer work there,” he said.
His wife, Karena, serves as the principal at Longbranch Elementary in Midlothian ISD.
“She loves working with students and teachers to help both be successful. She is an amazing school leader who knows how to lead a great school,” he said.
Their daughter, Kylie, serves as a paralegal with Lundberg Law Firm in Midlothian.
“She loves helping their clients and serving the attorneys there,” he said.
And, for those who are curious, he is NOT related to Midlothian Heritage baseball coach Justin Blackwell.
“That’s funny. I get asked this regularly. Justin is quite the celebrity in MISD. We are not related. He was a student at Midlothian Middle School when I was a student-teacher there, so I have known him since he was in eighth grade,” Blackwell said.
You Can Become A Mentor Too
To find out more about Mentors Care, or to look into becoming a mentor, visit their website at www.mentors.care.
“I am so honored to be a part of Mentors Care. This program is literally saving kids and gives them hope for a bright future as a happy, productive adult,” Blackwell said. “We are growing rapidly, with six new schools being added just this school year.
“Mentoring impacts the adults who mentor almost as much as the mentors impact our kids. Please consider being a mentor.”