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Meet the Mentor: Eric Harter Makes a Difference in the Lives of Students


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Eric Harter includes “educator” among his top three roles, behind only husband and father. It’s a crucial aspect of his identity, and one he’s very proud of. While he loved being a teacher in the classroom, he has found that his new role with ESM allows him the flexibility to embrace fatherhood and make a meaningful difference in the lives of students.

Prior to his position with ESM Prep as an Academic Mentor and College Coach, Eric was a middle school science teacher in East Oakland, commuting five hours a day to and from school. Knowing that leaving the position when he moved to Sacramento would mean that it would remain vacant, he left his house at 4 am each morning and returned at 7 pm each night. “It was the right decision and happy I made that choice. I adored the students I worked with and taught.  There was no doubt it was the most difficult job I will ever have, but also one of the most rewarding.”

Eric’s goal in the classroom was to enable his students to believe in themselves and find success by working hard. He was motivated by watching students achieve their goals and playing a part in helping them search for the one thing that would empower them to exceed their own expectations. In his role with ESM Prep, Eric finds that he’s similarly driven. “One of the particular things I find exciting is ACT prep.  Often, the student has a specific goal and we work hard to achieve that goal.  When the student receives the score they wanted, it is one of the most special moments of this job.  I pursue that feeling because it is so gratifying.”

It takes a particular kind of person to motivate students, and Eric attributes his ability to connect with them in such a meaningful way to his former geometry teacher, who was always available to answer questions and offer advice. “He helped me find ways to put stories into my teaching that my students would love and that helped me connect with even the most difficult students,” Eric says.

Ultimately, Eric sees his job as getting students into college. Though every person that he works with is different and has a unique set of needs, he’s able to help his students build a plan that will end with them getting into the college that’s best for them. Eric works with parents too, and has found that their passion for the education of their children matches his own. Often, getting to college is a team effort, and Eric says that the appreciative emails and texts he receives from parents make his day.

If Eric could tell students one thing about college it is that it will be one of the most fun experiences they will ever have, particularly if they’ve worked hard to land a spot at their dream school. “That moment they walk onto that campus as a student is a feeling they will never forget.  It isn’t easy.  It is likely one of the hardest things they will ever do, but it’s worth it!”