Winthrop University: Winthrop Celebrates Top Educators with Leading the Way Award
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Winthrop Celebrates Top Educators with Leading the Way Award

March 30, 2020

HIGHLIGHTS

  • This award is a partnership between John '02 and Jessie Williams Little '73 and the James and Susan Rex Institute for Educational Renewal and Partnership, which serves to recognize those mentor teachers who offer crucial support and guidance to new and future educators.
  • The 2020 Jessie Williams Little "Leading the Way" Award winner is Heather Harmon, an English teacher at Saluda High School in Saluda County School District and mentor to Teacher Cadets, preservice teacher candidates, beginning teachers and veteran teachers.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA - Educators gathered March 12 at Winthrop University to celebrate teachers nominated for the Jessie Williams Little "Leading the Way" Award. This award is a partnership between John '02 and Jessie Williams Little '73 and the James and Susan Rex Institute for Educational Renewal and Partnership, which serves to recognize those mentor teachers who offer crucial support and guidance to new and future educators.

As Lisa Johnson, director of the Rex Institute for Educational Renewal and Partnership in Winthrop's Richard W. Riley College of Education, shared, “Whether a Teacher Cadet instructor, a mentor to college students learning to teach for the first time, beginning teacher mentors, or those teacher mentors who just naturally support anyone who needs it – these are the positive role models on which we hang the hope of recruiting and keeping the best and the brightest in education."

The 2020 Jessie Williams Little "Leading the Way" Award winner is Heather Harmon, an English teacher at Saluda High School in Saluda County School District and mentor to Teacher Cadets, preservice teacher candidates, beginning teachers and veteran teachers. As this year’s award winner, Harmon took home a banner to display at her school and will receive $2,500.

According to Abbey Duggins, assistant superintendent for Saluda County Schools, “One of the most powerful aspects of Heather’s Teacher Cadet recruitment efforts is the intentional way in which she reaches out to students that may have never considered (or been considered for) teaching in the past. Heather’s students replicate her passion for teaching perfectly! It is truly incredible to watch and a tremendous gift to share.”

Those selected as finalists and awarded $1,000 were:
Brooke Erving '13, reading coach, Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science in Fairfield County School District.
Karen Roof '82, physical education teacher, India Hook Elementary in Rock Hill School District 3.
Rachel Turner, Spanish teacher and Teacher Cadet instructor, Mauldin High School in Greenville County School District.

Those chosen as semifinalists and given $750 were:
Anna Hasenkamp, seventh grade English Language Arts teacher, Greenville Middle Academy in Greenville County School District.
Julie McDowell, English teacher, Dorman Freshman Academy in Spartanburg School District 6.
Jana Moore, English teacher and Teacher Cadet instructor, Union High School in Union County School District.
Earleane Williams '11, seventh grade math teacher, Clover Middle School in Clover School District.

Also attending the March 12 event were the Littles.

Jessie Little grew up around the Winthrop campus, became a Winthrop graduate in 1973, and was a respected faculty member at the university until her retirement in 2005. She and her husband, retired physician John Little, helped to establish this award with the “hope that this award will encourage more talented, experienced teachers to serve as mentors and positive role models to aspiring and beginning educators.”

Others in attendance were donors who helped fund the teachers' gifts.

Sue Smith-Rex, a retired faculty member, former member of the Winthrop Board of Trustees and a namesake for the institute along with her husband, Jim, urged other education supporters to donate to the award.

For more information including how to provide financial support to the "Leading the Way" initiative, contact Lisa Johnson, director of the Rex Institute, at johnsonle@winthrop.edu.

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Last Updated: 10/4/21