Emmy-winning producer and motivational speaker Corey D. Taylor says kids who don't make the honor roll deserve attention, too.
He should know. As a boy growing up in St. Louis, he struggled in school, plagued by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and moderate dyslexia. He eked out a diploma with a grade-point average of 1.6.
“I wasn't the smartest kid in school,” said Taylor, 40, “but I realized in college I had a gift for talking to people.”
Finding his talent helped him get on the right track, he said. With newfound confidence in his abilities, he earned an associate degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree. In graduate school, he maintained a 4.0 average.
Now Taylor wants to use his motivational speaking skills and personal story to inspire at-risk students. He is launching a three-state tour of schools and youth organizations on Friday in Oklahoma City. The “2012 Resiliency Tour” will end around the time schools close for Christmas break.
Taylor, a Tulsa resident who coaches business leaders on public speaking and teaches at Tulsa Community College, has arranged visits to schools and clubs in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. At each stop, Taylor said, one student from middle school up to 10th grade will be recognized with a Rising Star trophy and award certificate. The honorees will be identified by school or organization officials.
The winners won't necessarily be the best students.
“We're looking for kids who have gone through hardship in their life,” Taylor said, “but they kept on pressing and moved past those obstacles. … They've got to show resiliency. They've bounced back from hardship and adversity. They will have decent grades, not necessarily As and Bs but maybe mostly Bs and Cs, something that shows they're improving.”
The idea is to inspire at-risk students to aim higher. By sharing his experiences, Taylor hopes students will realize that they can succeed, that they have something special and unique to offer the world. Such realizations are especially important in this age of cyberbullying and high teen suicide rates, he said.
A recent visit with comedian Bill Cosby inspired Taylor to launch the tour.
“I had the opportunity to meet him briefly when he came to Tulsa maybe 2 ½ or three weeks ago,” Taylor said. “Hearing him talk just set all this stuff rolling around inside of me, ideas I'd been having for a long time. He called on us to put legs to our ideas.”
Taylor, who won 2012 Midwest Emmy and Telly awards as a producer of “The Wayman Tisdale Story,” realized it was time for him to give back.
“This is just the first year, the inaugural year,” said Taylor, who hopes to expand his Rising Star program to a national effort. “We're going to do this every November and December. Next year we'll have more schools and give out more awards.”
For more about Taylor's motivational tour, go online to www.coreytaylorlive.com.
We're looking for kids who have gone through hardship in their life, but they kept on pressing and moved past those obstacles. … They've got to show resiliency. They've bounced back from hardship and adversity. They will have decent grades, not necessarily As and Bs but maybe mostly Bs and Cs, something that shows they're improving.”
Corey D. Taylor