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EXCHANGE: After getting help from a mentor, teen does same

Posted March 14

— On a recent morning, Hannah Daab was at school even before her first class for the day.

The New Athens High School senior arrived early to talk a pair of second-graders through a lesson in subtraction. She hopes it has a big impact.

"I think, from a personal experience, it's amazing what you can do when somebody sees a little bit of potential in you," Hannah said. "So for these kids, I mean, just putting a little bit of belief in them that they can do what they don't think they can do just goes so far."

Hannah has a mentor in her own life who she says encouraged her like that: basketball coach Erik Hager.

"He's definitely one of the most influential people that I've known in my life," she said. "... He really cares. That makes a difference for me."

Hannah, 18, has volunteered to work with students in New Athens Elementary School for the past four years. She also started tutoring a high school freshman this year, which she said has been even more rewarding.

"When he comes back with a good score on a test, and you can see his face light up about how proud he is of himself, that's definitely when it clicked," she said. "Second-graders, it's easy to make them happy; It doesn't take much. But when you have a 16-year-old boy proud of himself, that's when it really makes it worthwhile."

Not only does Hannah help her peers improve their grades, but she also helps improve the school itself through a group called Student Pride Team.

"It's just an organization that fixes bulletin boards or paints holes in the walls — whatever just needs to be done around the school to improve the place a little bit," she said.

That's just one of the many extracurricular activities that Hannah takes part in. She's also the student council president; National Honor Society vice president; an athlete; member of the high school band, Math Team, Spanish Club and more.

"But I love it," Hannah said of her busy schedule. "I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Q: Do you think this is what you want to do in your career? Do you want to work with children or be a teacher of some kind?

A: "Well, my mom's a teacher. I've talked about it a lot with her. My goal right now is to go into marketing, but education's definitely in the back of my mind, so I might turn that into a minor or maybe a double major or something like that."

Q: What do you hope to do with marketing?

A: "Maybe marketing research or something where you're in contact with a client to figure out what really suits them best so you can alter your product to really make a difference for them."

Q: You're the student council president. Why did you want to get involved with student council?

A: "A lot of people were encouraging me to do it, and a lot of upperclassmen from when I was younger that I had looked up to a lot did it. I just really like the idea of improving the experience for kids in school however I could."

Q: You're also in the high school band. What instrument do you play?

A: "I play the flute."

Q: Why do you like about it?

A: "Music's always been a passion of mine. It's not your average class where you sit in a desk for an hour; You get to express yourself a little bit. The kids in band, I think, are some of the most driven kids in the high school. It's neat to get to work with them on something that's not really academic, you know? People do it because they want to do it."

Q: You're also an athlete. What sports do you play?

A: "I ran cross-country my freshman and sophomore year. And then I got a job, so I had to quit for that reason. I played basketball all four years and softball."

Q: Do you still have a job, too?

A: "Yep, I've worked in the same restaurant for about three years now."

Q: Do you like school?

A: "I love school, actually. I mean, I complain about it as much as any other senior does wanting to graduate, but at the end of the day, I can't imagine not being involved in everything. That's why I think, I think about education so much; I'm like, 'I could stay in school for the rest of my life if I had to.'"

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Source: Belleville News-Democrat, http://bit.ly/2lTGMzn

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