A “calling” can mean different things. It can be spiritual, professional, or simply an interest in something to help make the community a better place. For Dwight Johnson, he’s hitting all three of those areas.
Johnson is the Executive Director for Preston Taylor Ministries, which is a non-profit organization with seven locations in Nashville serving approximately 245 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
“I just fell in love with the idea of it,” said Johnson, who started in the role a few months ago after working for the organization in different capacities. “A structure for students that stands beyond just learning but into this capacity of relationship building and personal growth and faith. I really could see all these things working together to make more well-rounded young people.”
PTM provides safe and fun neighborhood programming for children and youth to learn and grow. Programs include after-school tutoring, summer field trips, seasonal sports, one-on-one mentoring, Bible studies, camps, and more. Programs are supported by PTM staff, community and parent volunteers, and donors who support the work of PTM.
“We are very much focused on ‘what does it take to build connectedness for each of our students,’” said Johnson. “We are made better when we are connected to these things. So, when we are connected to a quality education, when we are connected to a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging in the community, when we are connected to opportunities, the gift is the exposure to things that these students otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to.”
For Johnson, the focus is on opportunities for kids from all backgrounds and interests.
“I think it matters for students to be centered around opportunity,” said Johnson. “Whether you’re the whiz kid, whether you’re the athlete, whether you are the artistic mind, wherever you fall in that paradigm, it is important to be connected to opportunity. We get a chance to further student opportunity beyond just the classroom, beyond just the experiences that they may be personally engaging with, and we just get to be a neutral space.”
Johnson also envisions new opportunities for his kids when the dream of bringing the Stars to Nashville becomes a reality.
“I think (it’s about) having another lane where we can expose our Black and Brown boys and girls to the historical figures that existed in the Negro Leagues,” said Johnson. “Those are the unsung heroes for sure, and their impact on the culture of that bravery moves the needle. It is being intentional about saying ‘this is something that we want to do and to do something about.’ Just existing as the Nashville Stars in Nashville opens up the lane to that conversation for kids.”
For more information about PTM, including volunteering and donating to their efforts, visit their website at prestontaylorministries.org.
If you know of someone who is making a positive difference in our community, please let us know