Lorie Clark has been the high school specialist for Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate since early 2002. As service advisory to the Blue Ribbon Youth Leadership Institute and the Minority Student Achievement Network, she’s been striving for years to help students of color reach their full potential within our school systems. As this week’s Hometown Hero, we’d like to shine some light on the work she does, both with Blue Ribbon and otherwise.

“Blue Ribbon was created in 1995 in order to help close the achievement gap,” said Clark. “The Blue Ribbon task force was created to take a look at some of the issues that affected students of color in our school district.”

Clark considers her efforts to assist students her “life’s work,” and her understanding of their needs comes in part from her own experience as a student at Chapel Hill High School. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from Eckerd College in Florida, Clark spent 15 years in commercial and public broadcasting. She has served on boards for the Women’s Center of Chapel Hill, Teens Climb High, the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History and the Christian Education First Baptist Church. In her current position with Blue Ribbon, she takes pride in providing opportunities to students that will allow them to thrive, to achieve higher than their current level.

“We’re looking for students that are middle-of-the-road,” said Clark. “Average students, that with some additional adult support and the resources that we provide with Blue Ribbon can really reach their full potential. All kids have potential.”

The mentorship program at Blue Ribbon isn’t an exclusive one, however. Mentors can access records and go with – or on behalf of – the parent to meetings concerning school issues. Family involvement and a stable home life are essential to the continued success of children, and Blue Ribbon does its best to ensure that students succeed.

“It’s important for the families to be a part of Blue Ribbon, we really value that. What we tell mentors is that you’re not replacing the parent, you’re not the parent. You’re there to support the parent and to provide some additional resources. It’s a team, or village concept.”