Lori Tucker (WATE News Anchor) opened the program and introduced Larry Mauldin (Project GRAD Board Chair) who welcomed the more than 600 people to the Annual Scholars Celebration Dinner. Larry then introduced Jack Miller (Class of 2005 GRAD Scholar, Fulton High School) who came to the stage to perform the Invocation. Prior to offering his prayer, Jack shared his experiences with Project GRAD with those in attendance. Jack spoke of his decision to attend college, left to go to work and then returned when he discovered that education is important.
Following dinner, a video was shown that highlighted “Teachers of the Year.” this video was created by staff members Kelly Headrick and Michelle McArthur (School Climate Coaches). The video was reflective of teachers who were nominated by their peers for “Teacher of the Year” in Knox County Schools. As the video played, teachers in the audience clapped for their peers as GRAD scholars also expressed their appreciation.
Scholars who spoke to the audience and shared their reflections were Jessica Tarver (Class of 2012, Fulton High School) and Cordy Cox (Class of 2012, Austin-East high School), Jessica reflected on her high school experience and GRAD experience. She shared that by attending the Summer Institutes she made up her mind about attending college and decided to pursue a major in journalism. Cordy Cox reflected on his school years as he thanked those who had helped him in elementary, middle and high school. He also thanked his parents, members of Knox County Schools, Project GRAD Knoxville staff and the Project GRAD Knoxville Board of Directors. Cordy also shared his Summer Institute experiences as he talked about rising early to attend classes and how much the Institutes helped to prepare him for college. Cordy plans to attend college and major in mathematics.
PGK College Graduates didn’t speak this year but those in attendance were recognized. During the recognition, a special video was played that pictured several graduates in their cap and gown. The video also included testimonials from parents and students who have been impacted by Project GRAD. The video was powerful as the audience heard from parents and students about their experience with Project GRAD and all of the support they receive from College Support Coach Ms. Annette Long.
This year’s “Caught Doing Right For Kids” Award was given to an outstanding educator and longtime community member who is very deserving of the honor. Reverend Dr. Montina B. Jones was named the award winner and received a standing ovation as she made her way to the stage accompanied by her husband to receive the award. As Dr. Jones received this award, she spoke to the audience and shared some of her life story as she told scholars about her parents not having the money to send her to college and their disappointment. Dr. Jones persevered and paid her way thru college by working and going to school and has now earned her Ph.D. Dr. Montina Jones is Senior Advisor for High Needs Schools for Knox County Schools and began working within the school system as a Math and Science teacher at Beardsley Middle School, a teacher a Eastport Elementary, Assistant Principal at South Doyle Middle School, Assistant Principal at Austin-East High School and Principal at Vine Middle Magnet School before being promoted to Central Office in 2003 as Director of Urban Schools. Dr. Jones has received awards in education and for community service. She serves as a Board member for Project GRAD Knoxville, Emerald Youth Foundation, Knox Area Urban League and KCDC. Congratulations Reverend Dr. Montina B. Jones – you have been “Caught Doing Right For Kids.”
It was an honor to have Ms. Betty Jo Hamilton as the mace bearer for the Scholars Procession this year. She was very proud and thoroughly enjoyed leading the Scholars thru the ballroom to receive their medallion and certificate. Ms. Hamilton has been a teacher with the Knox County School system for 56 years.
The program closed with a special spoken word selection performed by Mrs. Rhea Carmon (Teacher, Austin-East High School) aka “Rhea Sunshine.” The selection performed by Rhea was written by her exclusively for this year’s Scholars and she told them “It’s Your Time!”
One hundred forty two (142) Scholars of the Class of 2012 have earned the Project GRAD Scholarship. Congratulations Scholars!
Thank you to everyone who helped to make this year’s dinner a success.
WBIR – http://www.wbir.com/news/article/217487/2/College-bound-Project-GRADs-receive-scholarships