Asheville City Schools Foundation announces ‘Champions’ event

Announcement from the Asheville City Schools Foundation:

(Asheville, NC)  Twenty community members were recently nominated to be Champions for Asheville City Schools. The Champions include Lifetime Achievement Awardee Elinor Earle, Community Champion Awardee Pamela Jaillet, Community Agency Champion the Common Ground program of AB Tech represented by Sherrie Mahowald, and Parent Leader Champions Scott and Tracy Moore from Asheville High School. Individual parent champions were also chosen from each school and include, LaVette McDaniel from Hall Fletcher Elementary, Will Hornaday from Claxton Elementary, Kim Cheadle from Vance Elementary, Rob and Katie Mays from Ira B. Jones Elementary, Leslie & Tim Grotenhuis from Isaac Dickson Elementary, Jocelyn Reese from Asheville Middle, Mary Crawford from Asheville City Preschool and Christine Rokeby-Jackson from SILSA.

Lifetime Achievement Awardee Elinor Earle, known fondly as “Ms. Earle,” has served ACS students for over 20 years. As the primary teacher of Youthful Hands, Ms. Earle has dedicated herself to raising the achievement levels of many African-American students mainly residing in Lee Walker Heights. Starting in kindergarten, she follows a cohort of students through their entire educational career.  She supports them in homework completion, reviews important skills necessary for classroom success, and mentors them by discussing their behavior choices in and out of school.   She remains in constant communication with the teachers, and of course, the students themselves. Nominator and ACS teacher Jessica Jackson shares, “She does not just think that our kids are smart and capable, she believes it.” Ms. Earle affectionately recounts that many of the students she has mentored have gone on to college. “I just did whatever I could to get them what they needed. Whatever it was. It is really quite simple when you think about it.”
Executive Director of ACSF, Kate Pett, adds “Elinor Earle is a wealth of knowledge. Elinor has deep ties to the community of children and families she supports, and years of experience in understanding how to help children in poverty make academic gains. When the community gathers to talk about what’s best for kids, it has to include leaders like Elinor if we want the discussion to result in real change.”

Community Champion Awardee Pamela Jaillet is a 20-year teaching veteran of Asheville City Schools. She has been a volunteer in ACS since her retirement 5 years ago. Jaillet works with small groups of students who are not at grade level academically and need the extra one-on-one support. Nominator and ACS teacher Peggy Genova recently said, “She worked with a small group of students that needed math support. After 5 weeks of instruction all students in her group showed significant growth. She is in high demand.”

“Assisting in the classroom has been the number one volunteering request for teachers since the last round of NC state budget cuts in education,” ACSF’s Volunteer Director, Julia Schuster said, “We had a goal of placing 20 teachers assistants in classrooms for a minimum of 2-3 hours a week for the entire school year. We exceeded our goal and placed 24 teachers’ assistants. Everyone agrees we need more people like Pam Jaillet!”

For more than two years, Sherrie Mahowald has designed and led the AB-Tech Common Ground project at Hall Fletcher, giving English as Second Language lessons to parents for two evenings a week while also providing lessons in gardening and first aid, and providing child care for them. This program will receive the Community Agency Champion Award because of Mahowald’s innovative approach to ESL. She uses fascinating projects to build English skills for her parents through project based learning – for the first two years, she used the Hall Fletcher Garden, teaching gardening techniques while the families were learning English in an applied setting. This year, she has used the concept of teaching a first aid course to the families, teaching physiology and helping the adults learn CPR and first aid techniques. She provides child care during these evenings, enabling the families to come.

Scott and Tracy Moore are being awarded the Parent Leader Champions honor for their unflagging volunteerism all through their children’s K-12 experience. From Claxton Elementary, to Asheville Middle School, and now finally at Asheville High School, this couple has always stepped up to take a leadership role. A fellow parent, Tommy Gassaway noted that the Moores don’t see what they do as out of the ordinary and shared that, “For them it is just the way of life.” While both have full time jobs, they get to the schools for every home game for every sport at 3:30 or 4pm and have stayed until 10 or 10:30, whether their son was playing that sport or not. In addition to their roles in individual schools, Tracy also served as an ACSF Board Member. Pett recalls her term saying, “Serving on the ACSF board of directors is a big commitment to caring for all of the children in ACS because it means increasing supports for children whom board members might never see, or know. It’s not glamorous work-but it moves the needle on improving our schools for thousands of kids each year. It was such a pleasure to have Tracy be part of our team.”

Individual parent champions were also chosen from each school and include LaVette McDaniel, whose schedule has allowed her to volunteer every day for five years at Hall Fletcher Elementary, Will Hornaday from Claxton Elementary who has organized the dad’s volunteer group-The Bear Pack, Kim Cheadle from Vance Elementary for her many years on the PTO supporting daily operations and special events, Rob and Katie Mays from Ira B. Jones Elementary who bring enthusiasm to the classroom and fill in as needed to support their child’s teacher and classmates in various roles, Leslie & Tim Grotenhuis from Isaac Dickson Elementary who have become superstars for their school by starting the “Hot Chocolate 10K” fundraising run that has generated tens of thousands of dollars, Jocelyn Reese from Asheville Middle for her years of leadership and capacity building at the PTO, Mary Crawford from Asheville City Preschool for her involvement in the Early Head Start program and co-chairing the Rainbow in My Tummy program, and Christine Rokeby-Jackson from SILSA for her years of service on the PTO and chairing the Stay-At-Home Fundraiser. More profiles for these parent volunteers will be available on the ACSF Facebook page over the coming weeks preceding the Champions event.

The public is invited to acknowledge the accomplishments of all nominees including community volunteer Ian Wilkinson, community volunteer Kathy Bronson, community volunteer Ken Cooper, parent volunteer Yumiko Virant, parent volunteer Billie Glover, parent volunteer Robin Payne, and faith-based partner Grace Episcopal Church. ACSF would like to recognize ALL of these volunteers who give so much of their time to Asheville City School students.

About the Event:
The Asheville City Schools Foundation (ACSF) will honor exceptional volunteer leaders of the Asheville City Schools (ACS) district at the annual Celebration for Champions, to be held at The Venue on March 21st from 6:00-9:30pm. Ticket holders will enjoy appetizers by The Corner Kitchen, a light dinner by The Venue, a spirited live auction with auctioneer Ben Martin, and inspiring short films and awards honoring the volunteers by Industrious Productions. There will be a cash bar.  ACSF strongly recommends purchasing tickets in advance and has released special incentive pricing available for the first fifty registrants online.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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