BRIGHT FUTURES — Program within PAISD provides path from gangs & drugs to mentorship & success

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Levy Q. Barnes Jr. is hoping to rescue as many students as he can from the dark path of gangs and drugs by bringing them to a place of light and success though mentorship.

Barnes, the author of “The Pathway to Life,” has begun a mentorship program using his book in several Port Arthur Independent School District schools.

“The purpose is to rescue as many people as I can, and see as many people successful as possible,” Barnes said.

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Lincoln Middle School Principal LaSonya Baptiste said the program is launching at her school on Feb. 12 through the young men’s mentoring group GENTS, or Great Empowering Noteworthy Tenacious Students.

Barnes obtained his bachelor of science in biology from Tennessee State University and his masters and doctorate in theology and philosophy from California University of Theology, according to his biography.

“We are going to have Dr. Levy come and connect with our students on campus,” Baptiste said. “We do believe it is the perfect opportunity, especially during this unprecedented season.”

Baptiste said Levy, in his book, is able to tap into assisting young men by identifying their purpose in life and helping them hone skills, strengths and gifts.

The school has an advisory period at the beginning of each morning and will offer an approximate 45-minute session as part of the period to the young men in the GENTS group.

Lincoln Middle School instructs sixth to eighth grades.

Barnes is a man of many hats: entrepreneur, educator, inventor, gospel artist and author. A New Orleans native, he once taught 9-10th grade biology and saw students involved in drugs and gangs and students from abusive homes. He has worked with students who were introduced to drugs by their own parents and learned to make money off of neighbors doing drug drop offs.

The program

The program had its beginnings when Barnes was a biology teacher in a different district. He would often find himself mentoring youth who struggled with drugs, gang violence, abuse, bullying, fatherless homes and a lack of guidance. He and his former assistant principal, Luther Thompson, started a mentorship program, which taught young men the basic essentials of becoming a man. They would teach manners, etiquette, community service and introduce students to different career opportunities.

Barnes later quit teaching and began his own manufacturing business, but he continued mentoring youth in the community, he said in a press release. Years later, he put the basic principles used for his mentorship program into a book and program.

Dr. Mark Porterie and Dr. Melvin Getwood reviewed the program and agreed it would be a great addition to what students in the PAISD had. Also, the president of Lamar College Port Arthur Dr. Betty Renard reviewed the program, he said, and they have hopes of possibly integrating it with their school as well.

Other businessmen and women, politicians and individuals established in careers have partnered with Barnes’ efforts with the Pathway to Life including: Rep. Joe Deshotel, Texas Gas, Entergy, Daylyn Turner, Constable Christopher Bates, and Dr. Marsha Thigpen, to name a few. The books have also been donated to inmates at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility to assist in creating a plan for their lives upon reintegration into society.

Barnes said he realizes not everyone is cut out for a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job so the program teaches students how to start their own business, from dealing with the Texas Secretary of State to opening a business bank account.

“I looked at the students I knew sold drugs, they were entrepreneurs in their own way. I teach them to redirect that energy to start their own legitimate careers,” Barnes said.


Barnes’ book, “Pathway to Life: A tool to find and apply your true purpose in life,” is available on Amazon.

The description said it is a “guide that helps people realize their great potential, and gives instructions on how to make that potential a reality. Dr. Levy Q. Barnes, Jr. challenges each person to dig deep, and discover why they are created, find where they come from, realize where they are going, remove deterrents that restrict them from being great, and even show them the right direction to utilize their exceptional potentials. He gives guidance on careers and also ends the book giving ideas in business along with the basic tools to open one. As a living being, when you read this book and utilize its concepts, you are bound to walk in greatness. You can be in school, working, in complicated situations, or even comfortable, but after using the wisdom in this book, you will be a better person. You will also hear stories of the other people who have utilized these methods and have grown to success.”