Ty Bair of Lancaster was honored with an Essence of Humanity Award at Crispus Attucks Community Center’s 24th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast January 21, 2013, at the Lancaster County Convention Center and Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square.
The Essence of Humanity Award is intended to recognize individuals who, beyond the requirements of their work, demonstrate remarkable human qualities including courage, love, strength, determination, and persistence when dealing with adversity. The award also honors those who demonstrate a spirit of caring and provide inspiration to such
individuals on a daily basis.
About Ty Bair
Bair is a middle school teacher and co-founder of Exit Lancaster, a noted mentoring program for Lancaster City youth. Bair and his wife are the happy parents of two young sons, and Bair describes himself as an unrelenting optimist.
One would never guess that Bair had an incredibly tough environment growing up. He was one of thirteen children to a single mother. They were a transient family, living on public assistance, moving from residence to residence – just ahead of each eviction notice. Because of this transiency, Bair attended five elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools. His family had to stay in the domestic abuse shelter once and Water Street Mission twice. Bair found stability in life in knowing that he was welcome and affirmed at two places in Lancaster – the Boys and Girls Club and the Water Street Mission.
At those two places, miraculous changes occurred in Bair’s outlook on life. There were two very important mentors – Ted Darcus at the Boys and Girls Club who hired him as a camp counselor and instilled a strong work ethic, and Sam Mylin of the Mission who led Bair to a new-found Christian faith. In addition, Mylin’s parents invited Bair to join their family and have remained involved in his life as parents since high school. Bair began to see that his life wasn’t destined to parallel his biological parents, and he realized that education was the key to success.
He earned admission to Lancaster Mennonite High School and worked in the school kitchen to pay his tuition there. Upon graduation, he obtained a partial basketball scholarship for college, and ultimately graduated from West Chester University with a teaching degree in 1999. He knew all along in his college journey where he wanted to teach – at Edward Hand Middle School in the School District of Lancaster. He had graduated from this middle school and clearly remembered the needs of the students there. He was hired after graduation and has taught there for eleven years.
In 2000, he and fellow teacher Shayne Meadows founded Exit Lancaster, a mentoring program that initially began for Hand students. Program activities center around five principles: education, community service, arts appreciation, wellness, and small business. All thirteen students in the first Exit Lancaster class graduated from high school
and went on to higher education.
There have been four graduating classes to date, and each class has had similar success due to the program’s offering each student a “winning life plan.” Exit Lancaster has expanded to follow each student through high school. In the history of the program, any student who has committed to the program has never dropped out of school.
Bair also purposefully became involved in other activities at Hand where he could be a positive change agent in students’ lives – such as coaching the boys’ basketball team and overseeing the school yearbook.
Bair considers his grounding to be due to his faith – helping him cope with even the tragic murders of two of his brothers due to their involvement in street activities. He believes that God doesn’t put anything in front of you that you can’t handle. “I don’t want to be a complainer. I’m a doer.”
About Crispus Attucks Community Center
Crispus Attucks Community Center strives to improve the quality of life for youth and families in Lancaster by providing services that promote community prosperity, physical and mental health; and by offering programs and cultural events which preserve the African American heritage. More information is available at www.cacc-lancaster.org.
About Essence of Humanity
The intent of the Essence of Humanity Award is to honor those who inspire the best in all of us through the award and by elevating their stories. The program began in 2001 when business and community leaders in South-Central Pennsylvania established the award. The award is presented by participating organizations in collaboration with the Essence of Humanity program’s steering committee, which evaluates the nominations. For more information, contact Robin Stauffer, Executive Director, at 717-293-4498 , or visit the website at www.essenceofhumaniBair.org.