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Minority Liaison program aiding students with college plans
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College-bound seniors from the class of 2019 smile with minority liaison Leah Simpson. Pictured, from left, are Meliza Espinoza, Genesis Yanez, Simpson and Olianada Vazquez.

During this month’s School Board meeting, minority liaison Leah Simpson shared a status report of her work at WCHS.

Simpson was instrumental in obtaining the Minority Liaison Grant for Warren County Schools last year. Through the Scarlett Family Foundation, Simpson’s salary will come from this grant for the first two years and be supplemented for the final two.

Simpson previously taught English before transitioning to an ESL position at WCHS and said the idea spurred from that role.

“I realized what a broad range of minority students we have and how much extra help and opportunities they needed,” said Simpson. “These kids started coming to me asking questions that I thought were second nature, but to them, it was not.”

In Simpson’s position, her goal is to support and educate minority students to ensure they graduate college and are career ready. She attends college fairs and parent nights to engage all families and student support systems to educate them on opportunities.

Through field trips to a variety of colleges and businesses, students learn what it means to go to college or work in a certain field. Some of the field trip locations include Cumberland University, Motlow, TCAT, Morrison Industries and Ben Lomand Connect. 

As for scholarships awarded specifically to each minority senior at WCHS, Simpson’s records show students from the class of 2019 have been awarded $1.31 million over the course of four years.  

“In that group we have a Gates Scholar and also our valedictorian, Jacqueline Becerra,” said Simpson.  “Jacqueline told me she was so happy my position was created because if not for the information, she would have never known about the Gates Scholarship.”

This year, Simpson shared that she’s already begun senior class meetings for the class of 2020, along with TN Promise enrollments. In addition, more career-focused field trips, student speakers and college visits are planned along with ACT improvement efforts.

“I want them to realize their vision can become a reality,” said Simpson passionately. “I tell them to persevere through struggle, bounce back from defeat, and demonstrate the courage to take risks.”

The Minority Liaison Position Grant will continue to provide the following funds to Warren County Schools - $48,841 this year, $33,403 next year, and $22,964 in year four. The grant results will continue to be tracked and reported back to the School Board at the end of the year.