Lakilia Bedeau's efforts to help students build the necessary skills to succeed have been recognized at the local, state and national level.
The director of the Tornado Alley Youth Services Center at Paducah Tilghman High School, Bedeau has been honored as a past recipient of the Education Support Professional of Kentucky award by the National Education Association.
That led to her being invited to the White House as the commonwealth's representative at the annual School Support Staff Champions of Change national convention.
More recently, the 37-year-old launched her own company, B Dynamic Inc., to help students and families with basic life skills.
Because of her dedication to help develop future young leaders in the community, as both an educator and entrepreneur, Bedeau has been selected among 10 finalists as the recipient of the 2018 Young Leader of Western Kentucky award.
The Young Leader award is presented by the Four Rivers Business Journal, and sponsored by the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce. It includes a $1,000 award that can be used for professional development.
"As the director of Tornado Alley YSC, I am blessed with the opportunity to empower students and families by removing non-academic barriers," according to Bedeau.
"I realized after being in the education system for 10 years, there is a need outside of the 187 days students spend in school, so I launched B Dynamic Inc.," she said.
The basic skills she stresses through B Dynamic include time management, budgeting, critical thinking, and communication skills along with interpersonal skills and resume writing. Skills that, Bedeau says, are "critical not only for our youth, but the population in general. These essential skills are necessary in order to have and sustain a productive workforce."
In a recent Paducah Economic Development spotlight, Bedeau described B Dynamic as a "company that focuses on helping others be the best version of self."
B Dynamic held its inaugural event last summer in Paducah, with "The Youth Summit Life Skills 101" in collaboration with Tornado Alley, bringing together community partners from the region along with presenters focusing on "soft skills."
Amie Tooley, director of special programs for Paducah Public Schools, oversees the family resource centers.
"It's been said that students in great schools are always learning. Ms. Bedeau has mirrored that expectation of the students that she serves and has made it a priority in her role as the FRYSC (Family Resource and Youth Services Center) coordinator at Paducah Tilghman to continually learn as well," Tooley said.
"She has exhibited a strong level of commitment to develop her skills as a professional to ensure that she is able to realize the success she has visualized for herself."
According to Tooley, Bedeau's "role is to step in to bridge gaps, create resources, identify community partners, and stand with students and their families to meet their needs. At the high school level, our goal is to ensure successful transition of our students to adult life and she has developed essential components of her program to assist with that, focused on promoting college- and career-readiness for all students."
Art Davis, principal at Tilghman, said Bedeau "consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty to help students and meet their needs. She is very caring, and has many connections in the community. She uses all of the resources that are available to fulfill the mission of the Tornado Alley Youth Services Center.
"She fits our district vision - to know each and every child by name and need - to a 'T.' "
Bedeau organized the first professional development conference for education support professionals in the state in 2015, the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (Representing Education Support Professionals Ensuring Career Training, which is now an annual conference hosted by the Kentucky Education Association.
After realizing there wasn't an interest group dedicated to assisting African American professionals with professional development, networking and community opportunities, Bedeau organized and founded Paducah Minority Leaders in 2018.
"The mission is to simply support each other and give back to the city of Paducah by being entrepreneurs, volunteers and good stewards," according to Bedeau.
Bedeau said her favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is "the flexibility and being the one in charge of my destiny. I enjoy seeing clients have that 'aha' moment. It makes the long days and nights worth it. And, when you love what you do and you are walking in your purpose, it's like you aren't really working at all."
On the subject of young leaders, Bedeau believes every one should have integrity.
"This is imperative to the success of the organization whether it be a basketball team, a classroom or an office. Leaders are successful when they have strong moral principles and are honest. This sets a good example for the team and brings about unity."
The biggest challenge for a young leader in today's workplace, according to Bedeau, "is the ability to be patient. Young leaders must understand success doesn't happen overnight. The most successful leaders had to fail and grow into the person they are today. This definitely takes patience and being resilient.
"Most millennials want success to happen immediately. This includes the process of being discovered," she said. "However, as we as young leaders learn to be patient and work on developing our skills via professional development, having a mentor, etc., we will all eventually get to where we are destined to be."
To make sure she continues to grow as a leader, Bedeau has an understanding "that it's not about me. I am simply a vessel and steward walking in my purpose.
"In the words of John Nuzzo, 'success in leadership isn't when you reach your full potential; it's when you get to a place where you're helping other people reach theirs.'"