Rita Kirkland Named Mentor of the Year

The compelling testimonies of all five of Rita’s mentees helped tip the scales in her favor for this honor.

Rita Kirkland Named Mentor of the Year

Josilyn and Rita

Yulee, FL – On February 12, 2014 a Leadership Summit was held in Tallahassee for Take Stock in Children’s State Office. Rita Kirkland, a mentor in the Take Stock in Children Nassau program, and a resident of Hilliard, was honored at this gathering as the “2014 Mentor of the Year.” This award was presented to Rita after a very thorough selection process—hundreds and hundreds of mentors all across the state of Florida were nominated. However, the compelling testimonies of all five of Rita’s mentees helped tip the scales in her favor for this honor.

Chetney Woodburn, one of Rita’s students from Hilliard Middle-Senior High School, wrote, “It’s hard to explain how one person can affect your life so deeply in such a short amount of time. I am forever in awe of Rita’s compassion and serving nature.”

Since 2003, Rita has mentored five different students in the Take Stock program, including Chetney. She has helped pave individual paths of success for each one of them. Through her time with these mentees, she has been witness to many personal and academic growths and achievements.

Kenny and Rita

Kenny and Rita

Rita has provided guidance to her students to help them face the many obstacles and challenges in life that make it difficult for them to finish high school and/or go onto college. Rita focuses on teaching them life skills, which she says are as important as academics. Over the years, Rita’s relationship and trust with her students has acted as a platform to help them think through their actions and consequences and confidently accomplish their goals in school and life.

With kindness and compassion, Rita puts a personal touch to the advice and guidance she offers each mentee. For her current student, Josilyn Newman, she offered her direction with her dreams of Veterinary School by connecting her to the program, “Juss Horsing Around.” For Chetney Woodburn, Rita offered balance and stability as Chetney weathered tough personal experiences including her parent’s divorce. For her first mentee, Amanda Woods, Rita helped her grow from a child to a teenager by broadening her experiences through education and exposure to out-of-classroom learning models. For Kenny Zodel, Rita was more than just a mentor. She was the mother-like figure he needed in his life when he lost both of his parents suddenly in middle school. Rita still continues to be involved in Kenny’s life to this day.

Take Stock in Children Nassau is so proud of all of our mentors who dedicate their time and show compassion to all of the students in our program in an effort to help provide them the guidance and direction they need to succeed. If you would like more information on becoming a mentor in the Take Stock program, please call Sharon Collins, Executive Director at 904-548-4464.

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