The hallways are buzzing with chatter as students scramble into classrooms, except a pool of students and their teacher who stand by. Kristin Reese is the teacher for Leaders for Tomorrow and is a Leos Club Advisor. Reese isn’t around the high school too often, but when she’s there people immediately notice her bright personality and wild, curly blonde hair. Although you may not see her often at school, you may notice her in volunteer activities around the community with high schoolers from Leaders for Tomorrow and the Leos Club. She not only volunteers with Leos, she also works with other non-profit organizations like the Hood River Lions Club, the Dalles Kiwanis Club, and the Columbia Gorge Women’s Action Network.
Those who know Reese know how involved she is in the community. “Kristin is superwoman,” says Debbie Hanna, a volunteer from the Fish Food Bank. “She just does amazing things with all the different activities she’s involved in. So she’s an amazing person to work with these great group of young adults. I think she’s a great role model. I think she does a really super job of relating to high school students and motivating them and she’s just devoted to teaching high school students more about community and more about the Leos philosophy of supporting your community and giving back,” Hanna explains.
Reese has worked and volunteered with all age groups, but she prefers working with teenagers. “I prefer working with young adults because I can talk to them as if they are my peers,” she explains. “ I can communicate with them in a way that is reasonable and I feel that they can understand my reasoning. I don’t have to talk down to them. I feel like I can be very direct. They’ll pay attention and understand what I’m trying to get at.”
But working and volunteering with high schoolers isn’t always easy. “Everybody wants your time,” Reese explains. “Teachers want your time. All these civic organizations want your time. I mean, people are constantly contacting me about getting Leos involved or Leaders for Tomorrow involved in something that they’re doing. And the fact that you are in school, you have homework, after school activities; you’re involved in Leos, you have sports, you have family, you have so many obligations and constraints on your time.”
Students notice Reese and are inspired by hard work and commitment. Junior Briseida Sanchez says, “Kristin is the kind of person who does something for you without you having to ask.” Junior Paris Green praises Reese’s empathy, stating, “I think she’s good with high schoolers. I think she likes to understand high schoolers and understand that everyone has a schedule.” Green is not the only student and Leos member to think so highly of Reese, as, Kim Cuevas adds,“ She’s understanding, and she knows that we all have jobs, sports, and after school activities.”
Not only does she have a positive impact in our community, she also impacts the high schoolers who look up to her. “Kristin really wants to get high schoolers involved in our community,” says Alondra Manzo, a Leos member. Junior Jacqui Oropeza states, “She welcomes everyone regardless of who they are and where they come from.” Kim Cuevas adds, “Kristin strives for her students to succeed and become better people.”
Reese loves sharing her ideas, involvement, and knowledge with those around her as she states, “I love my job. I love Leaders for Tomorrow– I can see the light bulbs, when we’re out in the community on a field trip of something, and you see something that you never thought of and you just light up. And I love that!”
Her greatest reward is “all of the kids that I see back here that have gone through the program, moved away went to college, came back, and I see them everywhere. Lots of them own businesses; several of them are teaching now. Some of them are teaching in The Dalles, some of them are teaching here. It’s a really good program, and it really connects kids to community, and it also helps them figure out what they want to do.”
As the school day winds down and the Leaders for Tomorrow class returns to HRVHS, they take out their journals and write down their new ideas and reflections from interacting with businesses, non-profit organizations, and government in our community. “I hope that I can set an example,” Reese says. “That is, I think, my goal, and one of the things I really strive for is to communicate one-on-one with young people. Try to get them to relate more to the human side of the world.”
Some final advice Reese gives to high school students is, “Stay at it, and do what you love because, yeah, money… whatever, but money isn’t everything. Having enough is one thing. Follow your passions and do something that you love because you’re going to be doing it for a really long time.” Reese is a teacher, volunteer, and a friend– she’s a role model all young adults can look up to and be inspired by.
By: Esme Manzo, Talon Staff Reporter