Creamer was the founder of Teen Leadership Corps, the only non-profit that provides an original leadership curriculum and service outreach grants to schools — locally based here in Norwalk. After leadership programs were cut in Ohio due to financial crisis, the organization was founded by Creamer, who died in 2015 after battling with cancer. The mission of the TLC program is to empower teens to work together to address common concerns of their peers, schools and communities in which they live. Teen Leadership Corps is in 26 high schools across 13 different counties in both Ohio and Indiana.
Megan Casselberry is one person who wants to make sure Creamer’s legacy lives on.
“As a Norwalk High School graduate and two-year alum of the TLC program, I can honestly say that it has changed my life,” Casselberry said.
“For those of you who think you might know what TLC is, I’m here to tell you that it’s more than just a class — it’s a lifestyle. I live my life by a quote from Gandhi that reads, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ Teen Leadership is the platform that has enabled me to do this. Through serving in TLC, I was able to find myself — my voice, my passion and my purpose. I may have only been in the class for two years, but the impact this program has had on my life is eternal.”
Casselberry is a recent graduate of Mount Vernon Nazarene College and is the TLC interim advancement director.
“I can remember applying to be in the class my sophomore year of high school,” she said. “I was nervous because I’m naturally an introverted and shy person; however, NHS TLC teacher Nick Lee was able to see my potential and ability to lead by example. Over the course of my junior and senior year, I began to grow and develop as a leader. TLC provided me with everything that I needed —opportunities to lead, serve and inspire.
“The summer after my junior year, I studied abroad in Cambridge, England. Through TLC and the Geotrac Foundation I was able to study business and finance for a week with SIBF. The summer after my senior year, I went on a mission trip through TLC with Mission Possible to the Dominican Republic. Starting the program as a quiet and shy girl, I graduated (from) high school with a new-found sense of confidence and determination. Upon graduating, I interned with TLC that following summer, writing a new curriculum for a pilot program. After my internship, I started my first year of college at MVNU with a strong sense of purpose, eager to utilize my newfound strengths.
“College certainly played a role in helping me discover myself, but I’m extremely thankful that I started my freshman year with a firm foundation and sense of my identity. Over the course of 3.5 years, I grew even more as a person and leader — playing a leadership role on my soccer team and leading a Bible study for athletes on campus. After graduating from college this past fall, I reconnected with Susie Pocos, the executive director,” Casselberry said.
“In an awkward phase of post-grad adulting while trying to apply for jobs, Susie proposed the opportunity to come back on with TLC in the meantime. I now run TLC’s social media accounts and am serving as the interim advancement director. No matter where I end up, TLC will always be near and dear to my heart, it will always be a part of me. When asked about this program and the opportunities it has provided me, I could quite honestly write a book. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with such a phenomenal organization doing something that I love and am so passionate about.
“Mary Ann Creamer is easily the most amazing and inspirational person I have ever met. She has been my role model since the day I met her. I strive to honor Mary Ann every day in the work that I do, stopping at nothing less than the goal of having Teen Leadership in schools all across the United States. However, my job is extremely easy when you consider how incredible these students are. If you support TLC and ever wonder what your finances are going toward, it’s students like me.
“Teen Leadership has changed my life and I am eternally grateful for this program.”
If you have more questions about TLC you can contact Casselberry at 419-681-0746 or [email protected]
Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected]