“No matter how busy you are, you can make an impact on a local child’s life today.”
The Champions of Learning Awards are a collaboration between the Consortium for Public Education and United Way’s Be There Campaign, that recognize adults in western Pennsylvania who go above and beyond to create opportunities and motivate students to meet their greatest potential. United Way’s Be There initiative promotes excellent school attendance to students so they will have greater success in school and more opportunities following graduation. Abbie Manges was the Volunteer award winner at the 2019 Champions of Learning event for going above and beyond for local kids at Urban Impact in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood.
Abbie’s passion for giving back runs deep. “My mom always encouraged her children to give back to those less fortunate and made it a regular part of our schedule as kids,” she recalls. Through connections at the family’s church, Abbie learned about Urban Impact and the wonderful resources they provide to children in the community. As a 12-year-old who had participated in the program throughout her childhood, Abbie began volunteering as a soccer coach. By age 16, she’d moved on to their literacy support program.
The literacy support program, based at Pittsburgh King Elementary, provides one-on-one tutoring for students in grades K-2 struggling with reading skills. “Reading determines a lot for people, it allows them to become independent, communicate with others, and excel in their chosen careers,” she explains.
However, it’s not just the literacy program that keeps Abbie coming back to Urban Impact. “To me, holistic learning means we are not only making sure the kids are doing well academically, but also socially and spiritually,” she says. “A lot of these kids come from broken homes and showing them that they are loved and valued is so important to me.”
Abbie hopes to transfer to one of Pennsylvania’s four-year state schools to complete her Early Childhood Education degree and eventually teach in the Pittsburgh Public School District where she feels she could do the most good for the children she so loves. “After working with the kids at Pittsburgh King and seeing the joy on their faces when they learn something new, I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling career than teaching,” she beams.
Abbie was nominated for a Champions of Learning Award by her colleague and friend, Rachel Stojkovic. Learn more at https://uwswpa.org/be-there/.