Taking the Youth Service Center to a Whole New Level

Morgan Harbolt, Executive Editor

Hatter has a lot of tricks up her sleeve.

Megan Hatter does a lot for the community with the youth service center and it just keeps growing.

Hatter is the youth service center coordinator at two different schools. Many of her past students still talk about how much they love her. Hatter’s job title doesn’t come close to showing what she actually does.

In 2019 Hatter started the youth service center at Eastside Middle School. But before that she was full time working at Mount Washington Middle School. Hatter started the youth service center there in 2007. A youth service center provides needs to children who don’t have much. For example, if a kid doesn’t have a coat for the winter, the youth service center will give one to them. Hatter said, “The family resource youth service center program is through the cabinet for health and family services. It is grant funded through out the state.” The center takes donations and supplies to offer to kids and their families.

Hatter also puts together the reality store at both schools. The reality store works together with the Bullitt East Future Business Leaders of America club and lets the middle school students learn about how to manage money. The students get a career and a starting salary. They then go around to different tables and buy groceries, clothes, vehicles, etc. The goal is to teach the students how to manage their money and not get into debt.

Some other things that Hatter also has collaborative partnerships with community organizations like the Lions Club and Partners in Prevention. She does a lot more than just provide necessities to students. “I see myself as an air traffic controller at an airport. The students are the panes, the families are the planes. I don’t run the airport but I certainly get everybody get going in the direction that they’re supposed to be.”

Hatter is also working towards getting a therapy dog to go to work with her. “My first gig out of UK, in my nine years in long term care we ended up implementing what’s called the eden program. So it was pet therapy, we had facility pets and that’s something I’m very interested in now. So those would not be service dogs, those would not be what’s termed as emotional support animals. Those are true therapeutic dogs who are vetted or certified through an organization out of Frankfort called Pawsibilities Unleashed. The current plan is a dog that would come to work with me and would have jobs to do in the building.”

One of the hardest things Hatter has had to deal with is switching back and forth between the two middle schools. Hatter said, “When someone walks through the door I may not know their story like I did when I served just one school, but we get there. We are able to get there and when you make connections and build relationships with families, you can help them a lot faster than you can than when you have to build the trust that your going to take care of their situation.”

Hatter is happy for a chance to help more kids though. “I love working with the staff at both schools, it is always about the students. Because were able to address each student specifically and address them as people and not just test takers,” said Hatter.

The impact that Hatter has left on past students is known. Senior Julia Kromenacker went to Mount Washington Middle. “I think her kindness has left the most impact on me. She always had a smile on her face and was willing to help anyone,” said Kromenacker.

Hatter graduated from the University of Kentucky with a social work degree. She knew this was what she wanted to go into when she saw her nephews struggling. “I learned of family resource and youth service centers when my nephews needed some more support in school. So I had no idea that was even in our public school system, but it did hold a degree in social work and that was very interesting to me.” She saw a job opportunity open up at Mount Washington Middle and applied for the job.

Shawn Pickett is the principal of Mount Washington Middle. He said, “She is vital in my opinion to the success of our school. Before when we didn’t have a youth service center to where we are now, it’s been a large degree, because of her. She’s been consistent being here and her relationships with those families are now becoming over the course of time. She is outstanding as a person and it comes across in the way she deals with people. You can’t put a price tag on the importance of having somebody who cares about their community and shows it in such a dramatic way, and loves kids.”

Bullitt East also has a youth service center. It is located at the end of the College and Career Center in room 607, Erin White is the coordinator.