Carly Apap is, by temperament, a shy, quiet, and poised leader with an uncanny ability to listen and observe others in order to effect positive change. Through volunteer work with sheltered animals, she developed a gentle voice of leadership. Through volunteer work with children with disabilities, she found the soft voice of leadership. Since the age of nine, she has volunteered with autistic children. There she perfected and continues to use a voice that speaks for those without one. She continues that effort each summer.
High school opened the door into a world of social opportunities. She conquered her shyness when she began her own club – one brand new to Martin County School District. Called "Teen Trendsetter Reading Mentors (TTRM)", its mission is to teach reading skills to third grade students at risk of failing the FCAT. TTRM is a partnership of low achieving elementary school readers to devoted high school volunteer mentors. Equipped with the experiences of getting children with autism to speak words, Carly was confident that she could surely get reluctant students to read words.
TTRM works because Carly accepted the profound responsibility of persuading, encouraging, training, and monitoring conscientious teen members to go to a local elementary school and mentor struggling readers. It is a well-established fact that children who are poor readers are often ostracized by their peers in very subtle ways; often a poor reader's lack of skills snowballs. Dedicated to the curriculum and the promise of its end results, she convinced each and every one of her volunteers to commit for an entire school year.
Carly has a passion for reading and love of the written word became contagious. What better life-long gift to give to others. In the beginning, these young and struggling students detested the idea of reading books but grew to run to the classroom window and say, "Ooh, ooh, there's mine," at the teens' Wednesday arrivals.
The heart of the club is the young child who comes to trust and rely on his/her mentor. Carly saw to it that these young children were not disappointed. Not only has Carly engaged in service to solve a school's problem of low FCAT scores (almost every child in the program has received a "3" on FCAT reading), but her encouragement has seeped to her peers. Because of her success, another high school in the district has been inspired to start a Teen Trendsetter program.
Carly has continued this program for three successful years. Presently, she is grooming another teen to take her place, so her legacy will continue as she steps into the college arena. What is the sum total of her impact? How do you measure that school administrators are ecstatic, that more 3rd grade students are passing FCAT, that a little group of readers now have a big case of high self-esteem? How do you measure the possible impact of what teens with strong bonds and cascading smiles will accomplish in the future? To date, Carly has completed over 1,000 community, action and service hours.