In 2002, when TSA hired its first airport screeners, Clairmont ‘Monty’ Ashby joined the new agency’s frontlines to protect air travelers. But the long-time TSA officer has another important calling – to serve as a positive role model for our youth.
Ashby is part of My Brother’s Keeper, a federal effort launched in 2014 to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young African-American men to ensure that all young people are given the chance to reach their full potential.
Ashby, known as Coach Monty, visits an elementary school every week to spend time coaching our young generation. He’s mentored adult men as well as 7- to 18-year-old boys and is currently mentoring 5th grade boys.
“One main focus of mine is to encourage the boys to know that whatever positive thing they put their minds to do, they can achieve it and to not allow anyone to tell them what they aren’t capable of doing,” said Ashby. “I hope my boys gain a sense of self-worth and self-respect and understand no matter where you come from, that doesn’t mean that’s where you will stay.”
He said one of the joys of being a mentor is seeing “my boys make an effort to succeed.”
“[Mentors] can be that positive influence in the life of a youth who is surrounded by negative influences which unfortunately dictates a lot of their lives,” Ashby said. “Community involvement is a huge key to the success of these boys’ lives.”
Last year, Orlando’s Orange County Public Schools honored Ashby with their Outstanding Mentor Award. Ashby also serves as a community liaison to local law enforcement and his local school board and helps build relationships between local government officials, business owners and church leaders in his community. He encourages each of us to consider volunteering.
“No matter if you’re reading books, helping with homework, or teaching [kids] how to play chess, the one common denominator is being in the company of a child who may be having difficulty seeing themselves as an asset to society,” Ashby noted. “These young boys are a growing part of our society. They are the future workforce. When generations after generations lag behind, our economy suffers, our family structure suffers, our civil life suffers, cycles of hopelessness breed violence and mistrust, and our country is a little less than we know it can be. So, we need to change the statistics, not just for the sake of [our youth], but for the sake of the future of America.”