Kathy Olson has been quietly making a difference for students as an Educational Assistant at AMS for 10 years now. “I remember middle school as kind of a rough time for me, and I think that gave me a heart for this work and noticing kids who are struggling. I really enjoy connecting those kids with one another and watching friendships blossom. I watch out for the kids who are eating alone or aren’t wearing a coat on cold days and try to hook them up with resources.”

Kathy didn’t have to travel far to find her way to AMS. She was born here in Ashland, went to AMS, and graduated from AHS. After a short stint in Eugene (where she met her husband Bryan), she returned to Ashland and got degrees in Social Studies and Business from SOU in 1989. Together with Bryan, they raised five children in Ashland; their youngest, Jaiden, is currently a sophomore at AHS.

While a student in Dave Hennon’s Social Studies class at AMS, Kathy was introduced to the idea of resource scarcity and that not everybody had the same access to food and shelter. This seed of an idea eventually blossomed into a lifetime of sponsorship of students around the world. In addition to writing encouraging letters to students, she helps families of sponsored students pay for food, clothing, and medical and educational expenses.

About AMS, she says, “I love AMS! I love the family atmosphere, the way we support and take care of kids. And I love the school within a school model. It wasn’t like that when I was here. Kids fell through the cracks then and weren’t seen. We see kids now.”