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Jeremy Taylor

Kids in the hall

The college fair was located in the back foyer of the high school

Students and parents at stands

Angela Ballinger and her son Hayden picked up information

Parents and students at tables

Parents and students were able to ask questions at the booths.

Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy Taylor gives a speech during Cardinal College Night


(R-L): Hyther Vaughn, Luke Vickery,and Nicholas Shearer listen to the speaker

Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy telling the kids that "dreams do come true" during his speech


(L-R) Junior Dylan Powell, Sophomore Leah Ramsey, and Junior Tyler Lovett listened to the presentation

Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy Taylor gave an inspiring talk


Parents and students enjoyed dinner and the speaker



                The Wayne County High School cafeteria was full with 154 parents and sophomores in attendance. “It was a great night for our program,” said GEAR-UP Academic Specialist Tiffani Bertram.

Bertram has been the local GEAR-UP coordinator ever since the sophomore and junior classes were in sixth grade. She and the local GEAR-UP team which includes: College and Career Guides Dean Sumpter and Austin Shearer provide services like: advising/mentoring students, tutoring, attendance checks, college visits, job site visits, ACT and Test Prep, community and parent engagement, community service opportunities, financial workshops, and encouraging students to achieve some type of post-secondary education. The guides are employees of Berea College for a program called Partners for Education (PFE). PFE has employees in 31 counties throughout Kentucky in the Appalachian region.

Bertram had been impressed with the speaker at a previous event. Plus, several other sources had validated the fact that he was a very good leadership trainer.    

                “Jeremy Taylor had a great message for our audience. He really inspired our families with his talk on “Dreams Do Come True,” said GEAR-UP College and Career Guide Austin Shearer. “His message to our students was to always DREAM and do the work that requires you to reach that dream. We wanted him to encourage and motivate our students to pursue their ultimate goals, and make them realize that they can achieve great things no matter what background they come from.”

                Taylor’s motivational speech was based on the acronym behind his first published book, D.R.E.A.M. Dare; Risk; Excitement; Action; Momentum…To dream is to do. Nothing happens until something moves. The D.R.E.A.M. Principle works when you go to work.

                The Somerset resident who is charismatic in his approach to encourage people of all ages, told the crowd to ask themselves, “When was the last time I did something for the first time?”

                The audience interacted noting that change Is hard. He agreed that change requires people to be uncomfortable, but advised that they needed to prepare to get comfortable with not being comfortable. He suggested starting out small by trying a new food or perhaps reading a new book after school instead of one required during school hours.

                He asked the crowd to examine their lives and determine what dreams they have and which have come true. “What kind of life do you need to start living? Who do you need to extend some grace to?”

                “Am I maximizing my potential? Am I being the best husband or wife I can be, or perhaps the best student I can be or the best athlete I can be?”

                “Dreams do come true,” said Taylor. “In the fabric of our being is the desire to do something special with our time and talent – something that truly matters. And that something special begins with learning how to be intentional with our lives.”

                The families in attendance also gained practical information from the college admission counselors who had set up booths in the back entrance hallway of the high school. Representatives from colleges like - Tennessee Tech and Campbellsville University - shared valuable materials and information on college admission procedures. Monticello Bank and First Southern Bank also had booths to discuss student finances, online banking, and their branch banking opportunities in college towns.

                GEAR-UP works to help students transition to post-secondary training, so College Night is just one of the many activities the local GEAR-UP staff offers. On a daily basis, Wayne County’s three specialist – Tiffani Bertram, Dean Sumpter, and Austin Shearer – council high school students on future plans, make sure their IEP’s are up to date, expose them to college and technical school opportunities by bringing in speakers or taking them on field trips to everything from universities to technical schools to manufacturing job opportunities.

                Perhaps one of the most significant benefits to local students has been the opportunity for GEAR-UP to give financial resources to the school to purchase new technology and academic programs. The one-to-one Chromebook initiative, which enables each student to have their own computer, has been made possible through the program.

                The GEAR-UP grant goals are to improve Math and English scores, ensure that 95 percent of their cohort graduate high school on time, that at least 60 percent will attend college immediately out of high school, 70 percent will graduate from college within six years, 90 percent of GEAR-UP parents will actively engage in college planning activities, and 85 percent of parents will indicate some knowledge about higher education.

Special Thanks to the following individuals and businesses that contributed to this special event:

  1. American WoodMark
  2. State Farm – Mylan Wright
  3. Back 2 Wellness Massage Therapy
  4. First Christian Church
  5. Defense Actions Against Drugs
  6. Happy Hoppers Custom Design Market Place Parmley’s  Needleworks       
  7. Don Franklin Auto Monticello, KY
  8. First Southern National Bank
  9. Healthy Kids Clinic                             
  10. TransAmerica Insurance - Sheridan Wright
  11. Monticello Wayne County Florist Shop
  12. Monticello Physical Therapy
  13.  Otter Creek Timber
  14. Carol Ford – Mary Kay Consultant
  15. Allison Tucker – Consultant for Initial Outfitters
  16. Jessica Thrasher – Consultant for Plunder Jewelry
  17. Lake Cumberland Pediatrics & Internal Medicine
  18. Monticello Banking Company
  19. Phillips & Phillips Attorneys at Law
  20. Garmon & Ramsey PLLC
  21. Sumner’s Barbershop
  22. El Cazador 
  23. Black Stallion Steakhouse
  24. D & E Embroidery


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