'Summer of Service' winner a veteran teacher at 15
October 24, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Over the summer, ABC7 asked young people to go to our website and tell us how they are giving back to their community.
Hundreds did just that. Now, ten young people from the Chicago-area are receiving $1,000 grants to help support their cause.
Destinee Evans is only 15 years old, but she's already a veteran teacher. For the past three years, she has been volunteering to teach art classes to students with special needs at the echo school in suburban South Holland.
She says her adopted brother, Nicholas, who has special needs, is her greatest inspiration.
"Even though he has all of these difficulties, he always had a smile on his face," she said. "So I wanted to do something for him and his school."
Administrators say her commitment has a tangible impact.
"The way that she works with her students, her ability to relate to them, she has their attention. It's just been pretty phenomenal," said Debra Hooks, executive director, Echo School.
Evans' parents require each of their children to volunteer. But where they serve is their choice.
"I think it's because of where she saw us," said Leroy Evans, Destinee's father. "We're giving people and we've always been involved with children and youth and so I think she came along with that but I think it's just a special gift that she has."
The high school freshman is now an accomplished artist on her own, but her mother recalls an early reluctance to even try an art class.
"I said to her initially, 'just go for the first week and we'll see what happens,'" said Pamela Evans, Destinee's mother. "Because she bonded with the teacher, then it made her want to come back again."
But art is not her only love. The teenager, who is home-schooled is also an author, competes in pageants and ballroom dancing and has spent time studying at both the Viking Cooking School and Chicago's French pastry school.
Destinee Evans says she will use her "ABC Summer of Service" award to purchase art supplies for her class.
community, cheryl burton
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