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Debbie Grimm ('74)

Youth educator

Photo: Debbie Grimm ('74)

Every six months Debbie restarts the wheel of change, as the Commonwealth ChallNGe Academy in Virginia Beach accepts around 200 new cadets. As part of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, the curriculum strives to instill values, education, skills and self-discipline in order to help counteract the nation's dropout rate and actively help at-risk teens. Knowledge, power and confidence are just some of the rewards that cadets receive, as they transform into positive contributing members of society. "To have these young people who have been involved in drugs, gangs or just dropped out of school, come up to you and say, 'You saved my life!' -- that makes it all worthwhile," Debbie says. Looking for something different, Debbie first began changing the world for those profiled as high-risk by helping inmates at a regional jail attain their GEDs. After moving to Virginia Beach, she knew the National Guard's program was a natural fit. Debbie has received the Department of Military Affairs recognition for three years in a row but believes her biggest reward is understanding "that education gives you the chance to not only help your individual students, but also every person those students go on to be involved with in their future." And, her husband, David, has found his own way to "Be the Change."

"The best thing about teaching is that you'll never realize how many people you have touched for the better -- education is just that powerful."