Lisa Trogdon learned late in life the importance of education. However, she taught her children early in their lives to take their academic careers seriously.
"I try to teach them common sense and to have initiative," said Trogdon, a Harlem resident.
As the mother of a third-grade daughter and sixth-grade son, Trogdon stays busy, but she said she wants her children to understand the value of an education -- something she wasn't afforded.
"My mom died when I was 17, and all I was ever taught was that high school was a stepping stone to getting a job," she said.
Trogdon's realization of the importance of an education beyond high school has inspired her to teach her children that school is where they need to grow and expand their horizons.
So during his recent spring break, her son, Walker, wasn't lounging around his house. Instead, the Harlem Middle School sixth-grader had organized a study group to prepare for the Criterion Reference Competency Test.
"When I was in class, I heard a whole lot of people saying, 'I'm not ready for the CRCT,' and 'I might not go to the next grade,'" Walker said. "I asked them if they'd like to start a study group and they said 'Yes.'"
The group of nine students met at the Harlem Library and divided into sub-groups for review on different subjects. The students regrouped at the end of the session to go over additional material.
Walker, who said math is his favorite subject, helped his peers review math concepts.
"Other than reading, I think math is practically the highest need there is," said Walker, the son of Trogdon and Heath "Buddy" Pilgrim, of Harlem.
Trogdon said "everything's his strong subject," adding that she used much of the time during her children's toddler years to play educational games and engage in learning activities.
"Walker's helped his 11th-grade cousin do algebra and some eighth-grade friends who needed math help," she said.
Walker wants to use his academic talents to improve the world.
"I want to be the head botanist in a laboratory one day," said Walker, who is on his school's news team and serves as treasurer of student council. "My main thing is finding food that would be able to grow in homeless shelters and safer gas for our vehicles."
Walker hasn't ruled out serving on the school board one day, working to instill educational values into the children he might come across.
In fact, he was named an honorary member of the Columbia County Board of Education by board member Roxanne Whitaker two years ago after writing a letter to the board about the importance of education.
"She (Whitaker) came to school, and I was called to the media center by my principal," Walker said. "I thought, 'What have I done?'"
Walker said when he learned that Whitaker had named him an honorary member of the school board, "My jaw dropped. I was kind of freaking out."
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