Chris Green is the Business Community Liaison for Bamberg Job Corps, the only Job Corps Center in South Carolina. Bamberg Job Corps provides education and training to eligible disadvantaged youth between the ages of 16-24. That training prepares them for success, whether it be in the workforce or the classroom. Recognizing that his job is not the only venue in which he can contribute to the success of young people, Green is actively involved in his community. He serves as youth minister at Victory Tabernacle PAW in Orangeburg, and as a facilitator and motivational speaker at various local churches and community centers. In his roles as youth minister and motivational speaker, Green inspires positive growth in young adults. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Lowcountry Healthy Start and Bamberg County First Steps.
Mandi Presley has been a preschool teacher in Greenville County for 8 years. She began college as a Computer Science major. However, through working at a home for abused and neglected children in the evening, Presley realized she wanted to work with children. She changed her major to early childhood education and never looked back. Presley works diligently to develop her students’ empathy and curiosity, and encourages parents to be involved in their children’s education.
One of the first things you notice about Dr. James Winbush, the charismatic and beloved leader of Charleston County School District’s (CCSD) Innovation Zone Learning Community (IZLC), is that his staff members would follow him to the ends of the earth and back. The level of dedication and service that he elicits from those around him is a major contributing factor in his successful community engagement work in the county’s most extreme high-poverty, high-potential schools. Packed gymnasiums and crowded athletic fields with families eager to celebrate literacy, learning and academic achievement have replaced poorly-attended traditional parent events. Community partners--Boeing, The US Navy’s SPAWAR, and the Mayor’s Office, to name a few--come out in droves to help support the schools, provide resources, and volunteer at the many Learning Community events. There is a new excitement bubbling across Dr. Winbush's nineteen K-12 schools (which encompass both rural and urban landscapes) and the positive momentum is propelling steady progress, as achievement gaps close and graduation rates increase. And what is Dr. Winbush’s impact on students? His insistence on hosting an annual spelling bee, math bowl, and academic banquet for IZLC scholars has drastically boosted student self-worth and confidence. The IZLC’s 5th Quarter Program—-a summer program for students “who could benefit the most from continued reading, math, and writing support”—-encourages lifelong learning skills, as opposed to making students feel like they are in summer school as a “punishment” or consequence for not meeting grade level academic measurements. Two 5th Quarter students who spoke this year at the IZLC Back-to-School Teacher Rally (an overflowing high school gym of principals and teachers who came in on their last “summer Friday” to kick things off “IZLC style”) gave presentations with such grace and style that the crowd cheered with amazement and pride when Dr. Winbush revealed they were scholars from the summer program. There are countless other examples of bold and innovative strategies utilized by this man, but one thing is for certain. Dr. James Winbush is a true American Graduate Champion. In his own words: “My uncompromising view is that all students can learn given a positive learning atmosphere that welcomes exploration and enhances student confidence. It is my belief that an educator’s mission is to make school enjoyable and exciting. If students look forward to attending school, they will want to learn. I believe that is what school is all about.”
Tracey Ely is the Founder/Executive Director of Tutor Eau Claire Dyslexia Resource Center. Known throughout the dyslexia community for her commitment to helping families regardless of their ability to pay, Ely passionately pursues changing the trajectory of students’ lives by teaching the skills necessary for literacy. Offering reading assessments, tutoring services, workshops and an affordable summer reading intensive, Ely, an Academy of Orton- Gillingham Associate, has helped hundreds of children and adults learn to read. Ely is the publisher of Helpful Hints for Reading which is available for check out at all Richland libraries or as a free download at www.tutorec.org. This resource provides parents and educators with an extensive guide for use when working with struggling readers. Ely is a founding member of Decoding Dyslexia – South Carolina, a grassroots movement driven by SC Families and Professionals who are concerned with limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia. She is also an active member of the International Dyslexia Association, Literacy 2030 Coalition for South Carolina, Eau Claire Community Shalom and Capital City Church. A graduate of Tufts University, Ely has received numerous awards for volunteerism and literacy.
Dr. Beverly Boone was an English teacher for 20 years, a principal/assistant principal for multiple public school districts in North and South Carolina, as well as the Director of Professional Development/Gifted Education Services at the District Office level. She is also a published author with three books available and has used one of them, Breaking the Silence of Bullying, to raise awareness about the issue of bullying in schools nationwide. Breaking the Silence of Bullying is an original dramatic play created to open dialogue on the worldwide problem of school bullying as experienced by a student who bullies and his victim. Each act illustrates examples of bullying endured by a middle school student struggling with the loss of her mother and the cruelty of a particular boy at school.