Winthrop University: Winthrop Graduate Selected for “Leading the Way” Mentorship Award
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Winthrop Graduate Selected for “Leading the Way” Mentorship Award

April 25, 2022

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Rhonda Demumbreum `99, a science teacher at Byrnes High School in Spartanburg County School District 5 and a Winthrop alumna, was presented the award at an April 21 ceremony at the Richardson Ballroom.
  • The “Leading the Way” award recognizes mentor teachers who offer crucial support and guidance to new and future educators. In a time where teacher recruitment and retention are critical, the partnership between John and Jessie Williams Little and Winthrop’s James and Susan Rex Institute for Educational Renewal and Partnership honors the commitment these mentors make to the field of education. 

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA - Winthrop University’s Richard W. Riley College of Education announced that a Spartanburg teacher is the 2022 Jessie Williams Little "Leading the Way" Award recipient.

Rhonda Demumbreum `99, a science teacher at Byrnes High School in Spartanburg County School District 5 and a Winthrop alumna, was presented the award at an April 21 ceremony at the Richardson Ballroom. As this year’s award winner, Demumbreum received a banner to display at her school and $2,500. 

According to Sabrina Brackett, assistant principal at Byrnes High School, “Demumbreum co-founded the New Teacher Welcoming Committee because she believed something needed to be done to help new teachers each year in order to retain them. Her goal is to ensure that new teachers to never think they were alone in our school building. She is a voice of comfort, especially for those brand new teachers, and sees every new staff member as new to their responsibilities, departments, and school culture.”

The “Leading the Way” award recognizes mentor teachers who offer crucial support and guidance to new and future educators. In a time where teacher recruitment and retention are critical, the partnership between John and Jessie Williams Little and Winthrop’s James and Susan Rex Institute for Educational Renewal and Partnership honors the commitment these mentors make to the field of education. 

Bettie Parsons Barger, the director of the Rex Institute, said: “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.”

Those selected as finalists and awarded $1,000 were:

Sandy Vang, social studies teacher, Chester High School in the Chester County School District. “Ms.Vang is often someone other teachers go to even when she does not serve in the formal mentor role, as colleagues have sought her advice on professional situations or circumstances. She also has had a positive impact on pre-service teachers. She always provides meaningful, specific, and encouraging feedback. Ms. Vang makes me want to be a better teacher and makes others around her feel encouraged and excited about teaching,” said nominator Allison Welte.

Lindsay N. Weirich, AP psychology/ social studies teacher, Waccamaw High School in the Georgetown County School District. Nominator Kristal Curry wrote: “Ms. Weirich has been a consistent and beloved mentor to interns, warmly welcoming them into her classroom and providing them with the tools they need to be successful. As a result, her interns consistently love teaching and learn to appreciate students who are different from themselves. They appreciate nuances of the teaching profession beyond the expectations of a beginning teacher. They also tend to stay in the field, and often become leaders themselves.”

Jaime Campbell, math interventionist, Ralph Chandler Middle School in the Greenville County Schools. “Jaime Campbell can be seen teaching alongside a new teacher who needs support, pulling small groups of students who need additional attention, facilitating effective planning meetings with colleagues, opening her kitchen table to colleagues for collaboration on a Saturday morning, or working with school leadership to advocate for any needs of the math department collective. Her work is mentorship with lasting impacts at its finest,” said Sarah Evanson-Atkinson. 

Jacquelyn Marsha, English teacher and department chair, Blythewood High School in Richland School District 2. “Marsha’s leadership and mentoring abilities are extraordinary. She makes sure she's available to her Teacher Cadets and colleagues who are new to the profession and/or school. Marsha is a welcoming and dynamic mentor for potential educators and for current educators. She is passionate about her career, and she supports others selflessly and tirelessly doing all she can to elevate the profession, her colleagues, and her students,” wrote nominator Susanne Liggett.

Chosen as semifinalists and given $750 were:

Anjosia Ellerbe, Teacher Cadet and career technology education teacher, Wade Hampton High School in the Greenville County Schools. “Ellerbe has fundamentally helped reshape how teachers receive feedback and coaching. Through a collaborative efforts with the Instructional Coaches, school administrators, a two-year professional learning plan was developed that incorporates instructional coaching cycles and a school wide focus on rigor. She helped coin the term "Instructional Partnership." As a direct result of her mentorship, Instructional Partners are developing high-level, engaging lessons,” said nominator Dr. Carlos Grant. 

Julie Madden, business teacher, Ware Shoals High School in Greenwood County School District 51. One of her past Teacher Cadets wrote, “While I thought I wanted to be a teacher prior to taking Teacher Cadet, Ms. Madden affirmed that both in what she taught me and in how she carried herself. She put so much care and attention into each lesson and was my biggest cheerleader. She showed me what it looked like to treat your students with grace and patience. As a future educator, her impact in my life will carry me through school and my career. She made me feel heard, creative, appreciated, successful, celebrated, challenged, and like a great teacher.”

Corrie Kennette `01, speech-language pathologist, Abner Creek Academy in the Spartanburg County School District 5. “Kennette's mentoring efforts have influenced many individuals in positive ways! Her reputation as an outstanding SLP and her openness to helping others have greatly extended her field of influence. I have personally watched her take a young teacher under her wing and not only offer her guidance but offer her comradery. Her love of children and teaching is evident in the amount of time and effort that she pours into her work. Kennette is an outstanding advocate for the teaching profession,” said Karen McMakin.

Chauncey McElheney, Teacher Cadet instructor, Clover High School in York County School District 2. “McElheney begins mentoring long before students enter the classroom. He displays a strong commitment to the teaching profession and personal growth. McElheney is developing and inspiring leaders for tomorrow's classrooms by creating a safe space for students to build collaborative relationships, a foundation for professional competence and experience, and interpersonal skills,” wrote nominator Vicki Wolford.

For more information including how to provide financial support to the "Leading the Way" initiative, contact Bettie Parsons Barger, director of the Rex Institute, at bargerbp@winthrop.edu.

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Last Updated: 6/24/22