Giving back to the community

Adopt-A-Program Committee members for the "Each One, Teach One," initiative at the Career Technology Center West are from left, NWMS Community College DeSoto campus dean Keith Reed, John Woods, Bryant Henley and CTC West Principal Allyson Killough.

Each one of us has enjoyed the guiding hand of a mentor at some stage in our professional lives, points out Mid-South caterer John Woods.

Woods, celebrated local chef and owner of First Choice Catering in Horn Lake, along with wife Cindy, have been developing a mentoring concept for many years.

During the course of his culinary and catering career, Woods has mentored students from the hospitality program at Northwest Mississippi Community College and other similar programs.

That effort has evolved into the "Each One, Teach One" concept which is being incorporated into the Career Technology Center West's "Adopt-A-Program."

"It has helped us to build a legacy," Woods said. "It's what we pass on to these kids that will last forever."

Woods broached the idea of pairing industry and business executives with students at the Career Technology Center West facility in Horn Lake with CTC West Principal Allyson Killough.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity before us," Woods said. "I can take a young student and let them learn from all my mistakes and trials and tribulations. Each one of us has had mentors at various stages of life."

After assembling an advisory committee, the group has decided to hold its inaugural Career Technology Breakfast on March 21 at CTC West.

"Since the development and opening at the new Career Technology Center

West located in Horn Lake, I have been working on a plan that would link local businesses and business owners/entrepreneurs with young students and future business owners and leaders," Woods said. "The CTC West and its sister campus located in Olive Branch currently have eight programs or fields of study."

"It is our goal to unite local business with these areas of study through a

partnership called Adopt-A-Program," continued Woods. "Through this joint effort a local business can make a commitment to support the program of their choice through a financial donation and/or the donation of equipment and much needed supplies."

Woods said the involvement of local businesses and industry is key.

A second element is what we are calling 'Each One Teach One,' Woods said. "We are asking local business leaders to make a commitment of a minimum of three hours per week for nine weeks to mentor, train, coach, guide and encourage these future leaders. The time spent imparting wisdom and

knowledge from a seasoned mentor to a student is priceless."

Killough, Principal of CTC West, said the partnership will likely pay dividends for years to come.

"I would love to see our students have a successful job and feel encouraged and supported so that one day they will not leave our community and take their talents and skills elsewhere," Killough said.

In the past Woods has sponsored the Serve Safe Program, a food preparation training program for students at the CTC West.

For Woods, it's all about giving back to the community.

"Again, for us, it's about building a legacy," Woods said. "We will leave something after we're gone," Woods said. "Eighty years from now, the students of today will be training and mentoring others. I've had young people who worked for me 25 years ago and now they are head of a major company. It's about hard work and integrity that leads to success."

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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