Teach One to Lead One
Most schools across the US do not focus on teaching students the basic principles that govern life and morals that will mold students into successful adults. A lack of knowledge and guidance may cause children to move down a negative path. NC and numerous other schools across the country have implemented a way for students to form a life of purpose and potential. Teach One to Lead One (T1L1), a community mentoring program, strives to provide elementary to high school-aged students with a fun way to learn these basic skills known as universal principles.
Dr. Lori Salierno, the T1L1 founder and CEO, coined this idea in the late 1990s after years of speaking to audiences throughout the country as a public speaker. In 1995, she visited an inner-city school assembly in Florida to speak. Before Salierno could utter a word, the student’s hostile words and actions greeted her. The unwelcoming crowd urged her to speak beyond standing on a platform. In October of the following year, she established Celebrate Life International, Inc (CLI, Inc.), and in 1999 the staff created the original youth development curriculum and piloted its first program under the name Teach One to Lead One.
Salierno met Mother Teresa, who majorly influenced the program, four times before she passed in 1997. Just as Mother Teresa aimed to help the poorest of the poor, the T1L1 staff hopes to reach the roughest of the rough (kids). The care the mentors put into lessons allows students to graduate from the program with a firm understanding of communicative skills and character attributes that lead to success when they move from childhood to young adulthood.
“Now, some 25 years later, her [Mother Teresa] influence is still producing fruit in my life. That is why I am so passionate about the role that mentoring plays in the life of another. What a joy to know that we can help others by simply finding a need and meeting it,” Salierno said.
The program first started at NC, as it resides so close to their office in Kennesaw, GA. Since then, T1L1 has grown significantly and reaches across the country to provide children with hope and passion. They do this through their 10 universal principles: respect, integrity, self-control, courage, excellence, compassion, humility, enthusiasm, teamwork, and honor. The mentors aim to assist students in forming healthy relationships and positively contribute to the community. Regardless of whether or not students implement these principles into their lives, they gain beneficial relationships with mentors that can completely change their trajectory in life.
The interactive lessons bring laughter and smiles to the students who participate. The mentors play numerous games that expose people’s true emotions and allow them to feel vulnerable in front of others. Ida Adkins, a volunteer mentor for 15 years, enjoys the game “If You Really Knew Me, You Would Know.” Students write down things they want their peers to know and share deep secrets that allow them to connect with each other.
“My first impression of the staff at T1L1 is that they walk the way they talk. I find this refreshing because I’ve worked in places where the boss or manager says one thing but means another thing. As Dr. Lori always says: If it hasn’t happened to you, it won’t happen through you. T1L1 greatly encourages its staff and volunteers to live according to the Universal Principles so that we can better help students. After all, no one admires a hypocrite,” Brenda Rico-Paredes, a second-semester mentor, said.
Mentors can volunteer to help students across the nation, but they can also join the program for college internships. Rico-Paredes found the program through Handshake, a website for students to find jobs and internships. She accepted the internship, despite it not correlating to her degree, because of the impactful and selfless work the program does.
“I have learned a lot about how to be a better person and form a successful future. It gives us a break from class and allows me to better connect with my peers. I hope to become a mentor one day too,” NC senior Harmony Harvey- Morris said.