Kimberly Taylor ('79)
Kim vividly remembers the admonition she received while enrolled in JMU's early childhood education program. "It emphasized meeting the developmental needs of children," she says. The emphasis laid the basis for the mentoring program, Positive Connections, that she developed at the East Millsboro Elementary School in Delaware. She crafted the program to meet the social, emotional, academic and physical needs of children to ensure their best chance for success and higher self-esteem. For the last 10 years, Positive Connections has proved true to its name. She describes her innovative organizational approach as "eclectic." At the beginning, she reached out to a local utility company eliciting volunteer support for her program, and many workers became dedicated mentors who made positive differences in the lives of at-risk students. Kim has gone on to create other mentoring programs — her Pilot to Co-Pilot program couples fourth- and fifth-grade mentors with first-, second- and third-grade students. "The benefits go both ways in these relationships," Kim says. Now, she's looking to create partnerships with local colleges and utilize school staff members as mentors. For Kim, it's not work — it's a chance to be the best that she can be. And, in the process, hundreds of kids are getting better chances too.
"Students inspire me every day. The passion I have for my career and the love I have for children motivate me to constantly create new ideas to enhance our mentoring program."