The fourth annual Stars of Education awards gala, presented by PNC Bank, was a resounding success! The Marriott City Center was aglow, as more than 400 guests lit up the room with PNC Bank bracelets, celebrating the role of the community in creating a light of opportunity for students in Wake County.
“Our partnership with WakeEd is unlike any other.” Dr. Jim Merrill, Superintendent for Wake County Public Schools, addressed the impact of community engagement on graduation rates and educational opportunities for students. The graduation rate in Wake County is the highest in school system history, with 29 high schools exceeding 90%. “There is one group in particular that is critical to the success of our community engagement efforts,” he shared. “I am talking about those of you in the room this evening.”
“Thank you to those in this room and throughout our community who work tirelessly to ensure that the students of Wake County are prepared for success in school and in life.”
-Jim Hansen | Regional President, PNC Bank
Throughout the evening, we celebrated business leaders, community volunteers, and former educators who have dedicated their lives to improving public education in Wake County. Doug McMillan, CEO of the YMCA of the Triangle, received the prestigious Vernon Malone Friend of Education Award for his exceptional commitment to public education and more than 130,000 children and adults through the YMCA.
Seven people were inducted into the Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame. Award-winning actor Ira David Wood III was inducted in the Arts category. College basketball coach LeVelle Moton was inducted in the Athletics category. School-to-Career Council leaders Bill Seyler and Jerry O’Connor were inducted in the Business category. Community volunteer Ann Smith was inducted in the Community Service category. Former WCPSS Assistant Superintendent Dr. William Freitag was inducted posthumously in the Education category. TradeMark Properties Founder Billie Redmond was inducted in the Entrepreneurship category.
“Interview candidates typically ask two questions about the area: “How is the weather?” and “How are the schools?” We are fortunate to have good answers to both.”
-Seth Carruthers | Director of Global Chemical Technology, LORD Corporation
Stars of Education also shined a spotlight on educators who are making a difference in the school system as leaders and innovators in education. We recognized eight Teacher Innovation Grant winners, whose classroom and school-wide projects will impact more than 2100 students this year. We also recognized 13 SummerSTEM coaches who are assisting in the implementation of project-based learning units across Wake County.
WCPSS Teacher of the Year Betsy Graves concluded the evening with a call-to-action. “I have seen first-hand WakeEd’s positive impact in our schools and classrooms,” she shared. “I ask you to consider how much more we can do in Wake County Public Schools by investing our time, our talents, and our financial gifts with WakeEd Partnership.”
“I know that together we can provide all Wake County Public School students the preparation they need to reach their full potential and lead productive lives in a complex and changing world.”
-Betsy Graves | WCPSS Teacher of the Year
At the end of the night, we collected hundreds of “Stars Among Us” cards with messages of appreciation for Wake County educators and administrators! These cards will be delivered to classrooms and offices across the district. Thank you for helping us recognize the stars that shine brightly every day in our schools.
We wholeheartedly thank each of our attendees, honorees, and sponsors for making Stars of Education possible. We hope that you will celebrate with us again in October 2018.