Jermaine Johnson

by Terry Watson | July 19th, 2021
Jermaine Johnson

Jermaine Johnson

A life of service is a life worth living.

Jermaine Johnson is the face and founder of Reality Check Mentoring, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to developing the minds of young black males, ages 10-17. It provides mentoring focused on character development and education geared toward life skills, social and cultural awareness, conflict resolution, and critical thinking. Additionally, it strives to help males realize they can become valuable assets to society while offering long-term relationships and exposure to professions, resources, organizations, educational support, life skills training, and community engagement.

Born Jermaine N. Johnson to Florence and Joseph N. Johnson, Sr., this young change-maker is a native of Prince George’s County, MD. He attended Prince George’s County Public Schools, graduating from Suitland Senior High school in 2008. He is a proud father to his daughter Akirreh and son August. Jermaine is an educator, business leader, writer, speaker, and certified personal trainer. Jermaine attended Frostburg State University, where he studied management and business, ultimately earning a Master of Science in Management with a focus in Project Management from Kaplan University. Currently, Jermaine works full time as a Business Analyst on the Grants Development team under the Systems Technology Division for the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education. However, it’s his involvement and interest in his community that make Jermaine a well-rounded individual.

He shares his story of how it all began. “The first incident that sparked this journey occurred while I was working as an elementary school teacher for an after-school enrichment program. I had just arrived to work after buying my first (new) car. As I was walking into the building, I ran into one of my former students. He says, “Mr. Johnson is that your car?” I replied, “Yes.” He then proceeds to ask, “Did you sell drugs to get that car?” I was honestly stuck that he said that to me. It might sound cliche, but it hit me that some of our young males are not too far removed from that being their reality. That stuck with me. At the same time, while working at the elementary school, I was also working at a high school in Prince George’s County as a Special Education Assistant. A few days after the aforementioned incident, a second spark occurred. I was sitting in a classroom where students were asked to present a project on an occupation of their choice, and I watched young males choose jobs such as cashiers at fast-food restaurants and greeters at Walmart. It saddened me to hear them selling themselves short, and I was frustrated to learn teachers weren’t pushing them to strive for better. These young males needed guidance, confidence, and a reality check,” Jermaine shared. Reality Check Mentoring, Inc. began in February 2018 with just three mentees at the first session. In the fall of 2020, they had 19 mentees enrolled.

Jermaine shares that he is grateful for the opportunities Reality Check Mentoring Inc. has provided. “I love that I can share knowledge but also learn from our youth who will one day be our leaders. To know that I am having a positive impact on their future and my generation’s future is a true blessing and experience. It’s literally like planting seeds and watching the plants grow right before your eyes.

Jermaine understands that it takes a village to raise a child, as well as a community of committed change agents. For those who may be interested in starting a program that is similar to Reality Check Mentoring, Jermaine offers some advice. “First and foremost this work requires being selfless, genuine, and transparent. If you want to be a mentor only for the title or accolades, this isn’t for you. You must be willing to continuously learn and understand there is no one-size-fits-all approach when mentoring. If you’re going to go the nonprofit route, do it the right way. This means filing the proper legal paperwork, building a team, and having a strategic plan in place. It’s a lot of work but doesn’t be overwhelmed; the resources are out there, but you must ask for help. Don’t be discouraged and keep your vision and mission at the forefront of all that you do,” says Jermaine.

In the future, Jermaine says he hopes to partner with the Prince George’s County Public School system to implement Reality Check Mentoring program as a therapeutic practice. Recently they were awarded a grant from Adventist HealthCare through their Community Partnership Fund. Reality Check Run 21 is a program geared toward increasing physical activity among black and brown boys in the DMV area through running. The program entails young males completing 21 miles of running for the year 2021, incorporating health education components that will teach members the importance of injury prevention. This includes warming up, stretching, proper running techniques, cooling down, staying hydrated, healthy food choices, and healthy habits.
Jermaine shares running is a great activity to help kids build endurance, which is developed when they regularly engage in aerobic exercise. Program participants will be provided with running shoes and athletic wear. The goal will be to complete at least (2-3) miles each month until they reach 21 miles for the year.

To learn more about Reality Check Mentoring Inc., please visit their website.

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