Dr. Tavis Wade-Jones is an educator by trade, but the lessons she's most noted for happen outside the classroom.
Her mission in life is to empower young girls with the tools they need to succeed in life. That’s why she is one of WREG’s four Remarkable Women finalists.
She sees a little bit of herself in many of the girls she mentors. She comes in contact with a lot of them as she runs three girl empowerment programs that have reached more than 5,000 teens.
“We instill in them that they're beautiful and they can do anything that they want to do and we just give them the tools to do that,” Wade-Jones said.
These girls are part of Purity PEARLS, her abstinence education program. They spend one Saturday a month for 11 months learning how to be the best version of themselves.
“When you of think of purity, people automatically go to sex but it's so much further than that,” she said.”It's pure from envy. It's being pure from gossiping and jealousy."
She says what she teaches is Biblical.
“We take a Bible verse and we talk about their decisions. We talk about their character. What it means to be a lady. Social grace and charm. We talk about health and fitness."
Wade-Jones also runs Modern Distinctive Ladies for girls in area high schools. It's an organization she founded when she was in the seventh grade. Her annual Loving Me Rocks conference attracts teenage girls from all over the Mid-South.
A lack of confidence is no longer a barrier for 10th grader Tatiana Rooks and many of the other girls who go through the programs.
“One thing I really got out of the program was to be myself because I'm always stuck in a shell,” Rooks said. “Like, I'm always very talkative but my confidence level wasn't there."
Wade-Jones' work is making a difference. She has a 100% success rate when it comes to her girls graduating high school. All have been accepted into at least one college and all have abstained from teen pregnancy.
“What I've learned is people will put labels on you,” Wade-Jones said. “I teach my girls is it doesn't matter what people say you are, it's who God says you are, so I have them to walk in t heir own truth."