As we approach Giving Tuesday, we are highlighting Richmond donors and volunteers for their commitment to our scholars! Katie Taylor is a mentor at our Binford Achievement Center and serves on the Young Professionals Board.
How did you learn about Higher Achievement?
Katie: My first interaction with Higher Achievement was in the form of a center tour organized by my employer, Dominion Energy. From the second I walked into the Henderson Achievement Center and was greeted by our scholar tour guides, I knew this was an organization that I had to get involved with immediately. As the tour went on, my interest and commitment level continued to grow. By the end of the tour, I was ready to round up all of my friends and coworkers so that they could volunteer as well.
What about Higher Achievement caught your attention?
Katie: I remember being incredibly impressed by the culture of respect and excellence that was being fostered by the Higher Achievement staff, which was evident in the way the scholars presented themselves to outside guests. After the tour, we had the opportunity to sit down with the Henderson Manager of Instruction where he explained everything we had just seen; the culture Higher Achievement upholds, reinforcing curriculum, providing a safe and productive environment for students, and getting them on the track to college and overall success.
My commitment to Higher Achievement stems from the proven model and the unique culture they have created within each center. Our scholars choose to be at Higher Achievement knowing that they will commit hundreds of additional hours to the program outside of the 8 hours they already spend at school every day. The mentors also make a big commitment to be prepared and present on their mentoring day each week. The combination of eager students and committed volunteers has created a model for success that results in fulfilling relationship for both the scholar and mentor.
What motivates you to give to Higher Achievement?
Katie: It brings me immense joy every week when I arrive to Afterschool Academy and am immediately greeted by the smiles on the faces of my mentees. My scholars count on me to show up every week to help them with their reading and writing and – if nothing more – to spend some time with them.
What impact do you believe your gift and time are making?
Katie: They take it personally when you don’t come to mentoring or you aren’t prepared which is why I feel the best gift I give to Higher Achievement and my scholars is the fact that I am present and engaged each time we meet. Whether we discuss the lesson of the day or talk about how current events are making them feel, I dedicate the entire hour to my group of scholars. I do my best to help them see the world through multiple lenses so that they can form their own opinions. I encourage them to dream big, recognize their talents, and strive to always be better. We talk about how to achieve our craziest dreams and overcome our biggest doubts. My primary goal with my scholars is to have them believe in their abilities and all they are capable of accomplishing. I hope to be a person that motivates the scholars to reach for their wildest dreams and someone that they always know will be cheering them on from the sidelines. I want them to know that I believe in them when they tell me they will become an engineer, a musician, or a politician so that when personal doubt starts to creep in they remember Ms. Katie and others who are cheering them on and believe in them.
Help us make a positive impact in the lives of middle school scholars in Richmond. Make your Giving Tuesday gift today!