Deng, the organization’s president, and Mehta, its vice president, are now College Park High School seniors and have spent around two years building the project. Teach 2 Learn offers younger Conroe ISD students career- and interest-specific workshops with older mentors outside a traditional class setting—opportunities Mehta said were developed after discovering a need for more enthusiasm among some of his classmates.
“We noticed a lack of passion ... and direction that a lot of our peers—so people in our grade, people in our school—just this lack of passion that they had. And not only that, we kind of realized this does extend to our whole generation,” Mehta said. “This passion is the key to our success and happiness. I think we can all agree that a lot of [who] we consider the most successful people are simply people who found their passion and pretty much directed their whole life at that.”
After the formation of Teach 2 Learn, the founding team at College Park began working with students at York, McCullough and Knox junior high schools to set up after-school seminars on topics ranging from computer science to debate. The organization leaders said the sessions were designed to spark interest from the junior high students earlier on to set them up for a smooth, directed transition to high school and beyond.
“A lot of people even going into college didn’t necessarily know what their passion was in life or what they exactly wanted to do,” Mehta said. “We really stressed the engaging and the inspiring aspect is to introduce a lot of these different fields to them so maybe they can resonate with at least one of them.”
The pair said their first year of in-person workshops proved to be a success with both high school leaders and junior high students participating in the programming. Once their education experience moved online this spring due to COVID-19, however, Teach 2 Learn was forced to adjust its focus to new online workshops and group activities.
Despite that challenge, Deng and Mehta said the organization quickly adapted with the use of virtual meeting spaces and hours of new programming to maintain and grow engagement online.
“It kind of brought an unexpected opportunity. ... Previously with in-person workshops we were kind of limited to the schools we had partnered with,” Deng said. “With online workshops, we were pretty much open to anyone who was free at the time.”
With a new school year underway, Deng and Mehta said they expect to continue growing Teach 2 Learn’s presence throughout The Woodlands-area schools with new interest-driven online activities. Virtual lessons learned through spring and summer will also carry over during the year and could help attract additional students to the organization.
As the pair expect to graduate next spring, they are also working to set up the organization’s sustainability to bring in new participants and leaders in the years ahead. They said recruitment of older mentors and those interested in attending the group’s workshops will increase this year, and they plan to remain involved with Teach 2 Learn even after leaving the College Park community to grant a similar experience to students in the future.
“I put myself out there, do so much more stuff, and they really helped me find my passion. And in the same way, which I find kind of ironic, that’s what the mission of the organization is,” Mehta said. “That’s what we’ve been doing this whole entire time is inspiring people younger than us the same way that my friends inspired me by being part of this organization. So I think that’s a very powerful tool.”
Teach 2 Learn
3701 College Park Drive, The Woodlands