If you hang out with Terona Cobble "T.C." Johnson for a while, you won't have to go to the gym.
The coordinator of Youth Services at Winburn Middle School, moves among teachers, students, parents and community members, building relationships.
That's the only way she can fulfill her calling.
"I have dedicated my life to kids of all ethnic backgrounds," Johnson said. "It is my responsibility as an adult to pass down the gifts and knowledge ... given to me."
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For the past decade, Johnson has worked with students at Winburn teaching life skills and self-esteem at a time when the adolescents need grounding and focus.
To do that, she has started several groups at the school including FLY (First Love Yourself) Girls, and the Lideres Group, a Hispanic youth leadership group.
Her guidance doesn't stop at the end of the school year. During the summer, she teaches career options and job skills and takes girls to the Asbury College Challenge Course.
Johnson will be honored for her work on Feb. 25 during the 2010 Multicultural Opportunities, Strategies and Institutional Inclusiveness Conference sponsored by the Bluegrass Community and Technical College Office of Multiculturalism and Inclusion.
The MOSAIIC Award is given to a student or community member for his or her commitment to diversity. The Kentucky Department of Education's Division of Educator Quality and Diversity also will be recognized.
Although Johnson is grateful for the recognition, she said she isn't doing any of this alone.
"I don't accept it just for me, but for the community and the young people I serve," Johnson said. "I couldn't make the impact, make the connection or help the kids the way I do if it weren't for community partners. And I have some awesome co-workers."
Weaving a ribbon of cooperation and acceptance through various facets of a community is why BCTC Vice President Charlene Walker initiated the two-day conference three years ago. The hope is that educational institutions and businesses will explore ways of enhancing inclusiveness in their environments.
The theme this year is "Kentucky: A State of Omission." Through three panel discussions, scholars, students and staff members will examine Kentucky's past cultural patterns, the current remnants of that past and what the state's future could and should look like.
"We need to make sure we have people in prime areas, at high levels, committed to diversity," Walker said. "It's not just black and white. It's about everybody, and everybody needs to feel like they belong."
The keynote speaker is George C. Wright, president of Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas. Wright, a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Kentucky, is the author of A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890-1980 Volume II; Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940: Lynchings, Mob Rule, and "Legal Lynchings"; and Life Behind a Veil: Blacks in Louisville, Kentucky, 1865-1930.
Walker expects about 100 people at the "mini" conference.
"We try to keep it intimate so people can really talk openly about change," she said.
It's the kind of change Johnson has already implemented at Winburn, and the kind of change her parents instilled in her.
Johnson remembers being 7 years old and sitting with her mother, Carrie Cobble, at the lunch counter in McCrory's five-and-dime store in downtown Lexington, waiting patiently to be served.
"We probably sat there for two hours," Johnson recalled, "but my mother said we will sit here because we have the right to be served."
Eventually they were served, but Johnson took away from that experience a need to help others feel worthy and deserving.
Her father, Epps Cobble, was "a butcher, farmer and philosopher," Johnson said. His formal education stopped at the second grade.
"I didn't know that," she said. "He taught me my multiplication tables, and he was a deacon of his church. There would have been no way you could have told me he had a second-grade education."
Her mother went only to the sixth grade, and yet she accompanied Johnson on the first day of school for 12 years. Johnson said her mother wanted school officials to know she was a concerned parent.
That sense of family, which is fading in some cultures, is very strong in the Latino community, she said. Interacting with other cultures, with other races, helps us all.
"This is my calling," Johnson said, "and I have answered the call."