At the 14th Annual Champs Celebration, presented by Kalsec, CIS Board President Namita Sharma presented the 2021 Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence Award, sponsored by Landscape Forms, to the Late Dorothy P. Young. This prestigious award honors Diether’s extensive contributions to his adopted home of Kalamazoo and in particular, his service and genuine concern for the children and young people of our community. A former CIS board member, Diether cherished teaching and learning at all levels and wanted all young people to have the gift of education and the joy of life-long curiosity and learning.
This year’s Promise of Excellence Award goes to the Late Dorothy P. Young. If anyone ever needs to be reminded of how truly amazing and valued Mrs. Young and her contributions are to the Kalamazoo community, they need only ask their neighbor, or simply stop by Hillside Middle School, where the cafeteria and a street directly behind the school was named in her honor.
Mrs. Dorothy P. Young spent her entire career educating students, empowering families, and developing teachers. Employed by Kalamazoo Public Schools for 37 years with most of those years serving as principal of Hillside Middle School, her impact spans across generations.
In addition to her nearly four decades serving as an educator, consultant, and administrator for KPS, Mrs. Young also served heavily throughout the community, ensuring that many students—especially students of color and students living in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods—had access to the resources to help them succeed academically. She maintained her community work throughout her retirement, serving on the board of Northside Association for Educational Advancement, Community Advocates for Parents and Students (CAPS), Mothers of Hope, Push for Learning, Pretty Lake Adventure Camp Board, Douglass Community Association Board of Directors, Duane Young Scholarship, and lifetime membership with NAACP. Mrs. Young was and shall always be remembered as a pillar of quality education for all students.
Her commitment to empowering families around the educational outcomes of their students and working alongside community to improve those results, lives on in the many educators, school administrators, youth serving professionals and community members that she impacted.
While we could provide thousands of testimonies from those whose lives she has touched. Here are just two:
Because of Mrs. Young’s commitment and investment in African-American youth’s future, when our very own CIS Sr. Director of Community Engagement and Student Investment, Artrella Cohn, was in high school, she received a scholarship—one that Mrs. Young made possible through her work with the Northside Association for Educational Advancement or NAEA. This helped to jump start Artrella’s post-secondary educational and career journey. And now, years later, Artrella follows in her mentor’s footsteps, supporting this current generation of Kalamazoo’s young people through her work with CIS and by serving on two of the very boards that Mrs. Young also provided leadership: NAEA and CAPS.
“All due,” Artrella says, “to the amazing relationship that I had with my mentor, Mrs. Dorothy P. Young.”
Those of you who had the pleasure of knowing Mrs. Young knew that she especially cherished her time as principal at Hillside Middle School. The current principal, Mr. Atiba McKissack, inspired by her leadership, continues the good work of educating our students. He says this about Mrs. Young: “Mrs. Young instilled passion for youth. She modeled altruism in her words, actions and purpose.”
Thanks to the seeds Mrs. Young planted in the hearts and minds of countless individuals, her passionate spirit lives on and continues to nurture this community. Because her good work lives on in others, she continues helping kids stay in school and succeed in life. And for that, we are grateful.
To commemorate Mrs. Young, we will soon be releasing a piece of artwork from Nikki Lee, a local artist and previous student of Dorothy Young. This evening, we are honored to have two of Mrs. Young’s granddaughters, Taylor Young and Courtney Young, joining us to accept her award and to give a few remarks. Please join with me in celebrating the achievements of Mrs. Dorothy P. Young, this year’s recipient of the Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence.