Lending students a hand

Virginia native devotes attention to Panhandle youth

SCHOOlachieve-Dorothy Davis

Dorothy Davis is among the dedicated volunteers who mentor Eastern Panhandle students through the West Virginia Achievement Project. Founded in 2006, the program aims to help aspiring scholars prepare for college success.

INWOOD – Since retiring from teaching, Dorothy Davis has divided her attention between volunteer work in her native Virginia, where she strives to preserve the past, and West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, where her focus is on ensuring students a bright future.

[cleeng_content id="967872669" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]More than a decade after Davis relocated from Clarke County, Va., to southern Berkeley County she has continued to support the Josephine School Community Museum, the African-American history museum housed in the small frame schoolhouse where generations of black students studied starting in the 1880s.

Davis, who grew up attending segregated schools in Clarke, has also long been active in Virginia with the NAACP, the “One Book One Community” literacy project, the Coalition for Racial Unity, Clarke County Schools’ multicultural committee and other efforts.

But after Davis met longtime Berkeley County Schools administrator Taylor Perry, she found herself determined to make a difference in West Virginia as well.

“Doctor Perry said to me, ‘You live in West Virginia now, you need to use your talents here, too,’” Davis recalled.

Now retired, Perry was then overseeing the county’s participation in the West Virginia Achievement Project, which is aimed at enticing more high school students into Advanced Placement courses and with inspiring young students put themselves on a path for academic success even as elementary students.

The program’s chief focus is on students who would be the first in their families to go to college, those who come from low-income homes and those who are under served minorities.

Davis says she has found huge rewards as a West Virginia Achievement Project mentor. “This is so needed,” she said. “Just going into high schools and giving students that personal attention, that one-on-one encouragement, means so much.”

She says that she sometimes hears back from students she mentored, who now are thriving in college. “Some are at Shepherd, some at WVU or Marshall,” she said. “They’re loving school and doing well and excited about the future. It makes you feel good.”

Introduced in 2006, the West Virginia Achievement Project has worked to increase Advanced Placement participation rates among high school students and to boost overall academic achievement among under-served minority, low-income and first-generation students.

Through its academic enrichment, parent and community education, and student recognition and incentive activities, the project pulls together resources among schools, families, communities and businesses.

One of the project’s missions involves targeting freshman and sophomore students who demonstrate academic potential and encouraging their enrollment in AP classes, which gives them a leg up on college.

The project’s “Scholars Academy” initiative is designed to cultivate the AP pipeline with middle-school students who demonstrate academic potential.[/cleeng_content]

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