Battle Ground High School student named 2020 Excellence in Leadership Honoree
VANCOUVER — Towards the conclusion of the Teach One to Lead One (T1L1) annual Leadership Breakfast at Warehouse ‘23 Tuesday, T1L1 Executive Director Teresa Lutz shared a powerful story of a local student named Adam.
Adam was a normal, not outwardly appearing troubled youth, she said. Adam had a good relationship with his mom, and talked to her about his struggles with school and relationships, and ultimately shared his lack of desire to live anymore.
Within that time, Adam’s mom encouraged him, and T1L1 coincidentally began coming to Adam’s school. After some months of being encouraged and mentored at home and at school, Adam came to his mom with one of his dresser drawers, Lutz said.
His mom was confused when Adam said, “I don’t need this anymore. Things are going to be ok.” Adam went on to say that because of T1L1 he realized what a valuable part of a team he was, Lutz said. Then his mom looked inside.
Under the clothes, was some rope, a detailed diagram of Adam’s bedroom, a tape measure, and a letter.
Adam had planned, in detail, how he was going to end his own life, but because of mentorship and people seeing the value in him, he didn’t, Lutz said. Now, it is, perhaps, more evident why “Rooted for Growth” was such an appropriate theme for the event.
The story was an impactful illustration of why more than 200 mothers, fathers, business owners, elected officials, teachers, sons, and daughters gathered this week for the annual Leadership Breakfast at Warehouse ‘23 in Vancouver.
T1L1 is a national organization with the goal of mentoring at-risk youth and students of all walks of life. Since 1996, the organization has reached more than 24,000 young people. Looking into 2020, the Clark County chapter is expecting to work with nearly 1,000.
As an organization, T1L1 is declaring war on teen suicide and seeks to instill positive values through placing positive role models into the lives of youth.
“Teach One to Lead One on a weekly basis is mentoring hundreds of students who are so close to ending their life,” said Lutz. “We must intervene. We cannot stand idly by and watch a generation lose hope. We can take the risk away. We can nurture these kids, we can water them, we can grow them. We can support them so that they can put roots down, and they can grow strong and stable, and be vital members of our community.”
At this year’s breakfast, community members heard from Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins and his wife Lorna. The Atkins’ have long been supporters of the T1L1 program and have worked as student mentors as well. Atkins shared how in his 40 years of law enforcement work, he has worked with many organizations and was even an original D.A.R.E. officer.
“I firmly believe it’s one of the best programs that I have ever seen when it comes to reaching the broader scope of our youth in our community,” Atkins said, smiling. “Who not only are going to be our future leaders, but they’re the ones that today, hopefully, are preparing themselves to take care of us when we get old. You know, some of us as I look around this room are almost there already.”
Since 2009, Clark County’s T1L1 has reached over 3,000 youth, and has recruited hundreds of mentors to go into schools and spend time with students. Mentors often do more than classroom activities, but often engage with students on deep issues like respect, integrity, self-control, compassion, and honor. In T1L1, these are known as the Universal Principles.
“The phrase caught my mind as I was writing this and it was intentional disruption,” said T1L1 mentor, firefighter and recovered addict Nate Cook. “I believe those who volunteer and invest in Teach One to Lead One, are choosing to intentionally disrupt their daily norm. My encouragement to us all on this day is to choose intentional disruption to your norm for the sake of our incredible youth.”
Cook, as a firefighter, explained that too many times he has found himself responding to calls of successful teen suicides in Clark County. A desire to share positive principles and instill knowledge of one’s worth and value motivated and continues to motivate his work as a T1L1 mentor, he said.
Battle Ground High School senior Ian King, was one of those students who was impacted by Cook. He is also the recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Leadership Award.
“The mentors truly wanted to know who I was, who we all were. Not just the students we were but the person I was. Deep down all I wanted was to be accepted,” King said. “The mentors approached us as if they’d known us for years. It felt like we’d been reunited at a family reunion. There wasn’t a feeling of a mass educational agenda, but rather they made us feel at home.”
King explained how he went from being the “moody dude” in the back of the class because of his difficult home life, to an engaged student who wanted to contribute and learn.
As the conclusion to the event, a young woman by the name of Isabella Gomes, sang a near-perfect rendition of Lauren Daigle’s “You Say.” It was beautiful.