Jefferson Award winner, February 2017: Taylor Kilgore - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Jefferson Award winner, February 2017: Taylor Kilgore

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MADISON (WKOW) -- On a bustling afternoon at Simpson Street Free Press in Madison, young minds are being molded.

"Simpson Street uses journalism as a portal to teach literacy skills," says 21-year-old Taylor Kilgore. "We are really big on comprehension and close reading."

Taylor leads the newsroom, helping students after school to write and publish online articles on a variety of topics, like geography, science and history.

That earned her February's Jefferson Award.

"It's been amazing just to see the growth within students and that academic confidence that was instilled in me as a student. "

Taylor started at Simpson Street when she was in 8th grade.

"Seeing the impact of writing and how it really built my confidence, how I could express myself through my work here at Simpson Street Free Press."

Throughout the years, she grew to become an editor, and mentor.

"For me, to go through the curriculum and learn the process, really become a master of close reading, to become a master of going to the sentence in paragraph level and really editing and being able to explain what my edits are. Then push that onto a group of students to become leaders themselves and work with younger students, is amazing."

Now, Taylor is a senior at UW-Madison studying journalism.

But, she never stopped helping at Simpson Street.

She's there five days a week, 6 hours each day.

16-year-old Amie Kabera says, "She's a really big role model for me, because she's a leader and I also want to be a leader."

Taylor's helped me grow my confidence in academics," says 13-year-old Cristian Avila-Velacquez. " So, now in school it helps me quite a lot."

"You always see a progression throughout their time here," says Taylor. "We measure student grades, student attendance."

Taylor's role also extends beyond the newsroom.

She writes grants, runs a book club and is organizing a summer internship program.

"I think that mentoring them to become young leaders and build that academic confidence themselves is really important," says Taylor. "We need young leaders in our community."
 

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