Smyrna West student recognized for work with Teen Trendsetters program

Rutherford County Schools 

Justin Snowden of Smyrna West Alternative School is being recognized for his outstanding work with Volunteer USA's Teen Trendsetters program. 

The program pairs high school students with second and third-graders for one-on-one weekly mentoring sessions.  The goal is to help at-risk mentees who are at least six-months behind their peers in reading skills and to nurture the volunteer spirit among youth leaders. The teens received training in reading mentoring and leadership skills at the beginning of the school year before helping the younger students with weekly mentoring sessions focused on reading proficiency and other educational activities. 

Locally, Justin is recognized for his excellent service and leadership in serving as a volunteer Teen Trendsetter this school year.

“He’s one of those kids who hears the beat of a different drummer and never quite figured out how to blend in at his home school," said program advisor Kelly Messerly. "Nevertheless, he has always conducted himself as a model student and citizen while here.  He has eagerly and willingly joined every service project we’ve conducted and has proven to be an outstanding leader.  He has participated in Teen Trendsetters twice and can be counted on to teach new mentors how the program works. 

Today there are 60 high schools serving 65 elementary schools across the state with approximately 3,000 students benefiting. The program also provides approximately 16 free Scholastic books to each of the elementary mentees to add to their home libraries. Teen Trendsetters™ has been recognized nationally as one of the most successful and cost-effective youth mentoring programs.  The results in Florida are impressive:

  • Among Elementary Mentees: -At-risk reading performance drops in half; twice as likely to pass standardized reading test 
  • Among Teen Mentors: 99% graduate high school; 74% earn Bright Futures – compared to just 38% of their peers 

Nationally, Teen Trendsetters™ is sponsored by Comcast.  The program is proudly managed by the nonprofit Volunteer USA Foundation (VUSA) and a winner of the prestigious Harris Wofford Award and  Youth Thrive Award as one of the best youth programs.  For more information please visit