Winthrop’s College of Education Honors Fifth-Grade Teacher Allie Long with Jessie Williams Little “Leading the Way” Award

April 13, 2021


  • The award is a partnership between John ’02 and Jessie Williams Little ‘73 and the College of Education’s James and Susan Rex Institute for Educational Renewal and Partnership. 
  • The recipient is Allie Long, a fifth-grade teacher in the Greenville County School District.  

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA - The Richard W. Riley College of Education at Winthrop University announced its 2021 Jessie Williams Little "Leading the Way" Award recipient on April 13. The recipient is Allie Long, a fifth-grade teacher in the Greenville County School District. 

The award is a partnership between John ’02 and Jessie Williams Little ‘73 and the College of Education’s James and Susan Rex Institute for Educational Renewal and Partnership. It serves to recognize mentor teachers who offer crucial support and guidance to new and future educators.

As Bettie Parsons Barger, 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.”

Long teaches at Ellen Woodside Elementary in the Greenville County School District and is a mentor to preservice teacher candidates, beginning teachers, and veteran teachers. As part of the award, she will receive $2,500 and a banner to display at her school.

According to Nathan Deese, assistant principal at Ellen Woodside Elementary, “One of Long’s strengths as a teacher is relationship building. Whether with colleagues, students or parents, she works to support and engage them all in a positive way. Long shares this knowledge with those she mentors to allow them to be successful as well. She patiently guides and mentors each new teacher, whatever his or her needs may be.”

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

Melissa Higdon, music teacher, Ebinport Elementary in the Rock Hill School District. “Higdon mentors with grace and allows teacher candidates the room to feel safe trying new strategies, learn from making mistakes and constructively helps them work towards their goals. She creates a welcoming environment and supports her teacher candidates by ensuring that students afford them the same respect as a teacher as they do for her,” said nominator Stacey Walden.

Tonya Price, Spanish teacher and Teacher Cadet instructor, Gilbert High School in Lexington County School District 1. “Because Price is committed to helping people reach high expectations for their students, she actively advocates for the needs of her teachers with administration, district leadership and her colleagues in other departments. She ensures that the people in her department have the information, resources and support needed to be the best teachers that they can be,” said nominator Jacob Nelson.

Mary Rooney, first-grade teacher, Myrtle Beach Primary School in the Horry County School District. “Rooney’s attitude is contagious and she easily brings positivity and humor to this demanding profession. She provides guidance to new teachers and proves to them that the rewards of teaching outweigh the challenges,” said nominator Kimberly Thomas.

Tina Smith, kindergarten teacher, Chandler Creek Elementary in the Greenville County School District. “One of the most valuable parts of Smith’s mentoring is the ability to listen and provide the needed time for the teacher to share about celebrations and areas of need. Her responsibilities allow the teacher a safe place to seek advice, and she is able to share and lead the new teacher forward,” said nominator Jane Mills.

Chosen as semifinalists and given $750 are:

Ashley Gresham Ghent ’00, ‘03, fifth-grade teacher at Mount Gallant Elementary in the Rock Hill School District. “Ghent facilitates teacher learning by affirming what teachers are doing, being fully available to help them, being supportive and offering suggestions in a positive way,” said nominator Lee Johnson.

Morgan McWhite ‘14, art teacher, Oakridge Elementary in the Clover School District. “McWhite was welcoming, helpful and, most of all, willing to let me take lead. She was great about sharing her space and lessons, along with being patient about me learning from my own mistakes. To this day she still helps me,” said nominator Joyce Seaman.

Lee Peace, social studies teacher and Teacher Cadet instructor, Andrews High School in Georgetown County School District. “Peace’s mentoring and serving as a cooperating teacher has made a huge impact on the interns and induction teachers that she has served. All interns serving under her leadership usually end up with jobs. Not only do they end up with jobs, the retention of these teachers has a lasting effect,” said nominator Paula Anderson.

Tracy Redmon, speech/language pathologist, Powdersville Elementary in Anderson School District 1. “Redmon knows how to encourage and affirm young teachers who compare themselves to the veteran teachers and want to be like them. With Redmon as a mentor, the mentee is never alone, but supported by a confident, caring and talented professional,” said nominator Cheyenne Barber.

About 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, who earned an M.B.A. from Winthrop in 2002, 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.”

For more information, including how to provide financial support to the "Leading the Way" initiative, visit the webpage.

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