RALEIGH, N.C. — WakeEd Partnership (WakeEd), a business-backed nonprofit organization committed to supporting teachers and students in Wake County Public Schools, today announced this year’s honorees for its annual Stars of Education Gala. Stars of Education returns this year as an in-person event for the first time since 2019 to celebrate public schools and public education champions on October 20, 2022, at the Raleigh Convention Center.
WakeEd will honor Ralph Capps, President & CEO, Wake County Boys & Girls Clubs with the Vernon Malone Friend of Education Award. WakeEd has been presenting this award since 1990 to an individual who has made significant contributions to our community and shares qualities of the late Senator Vernon Malone who advocated tirelessly for every child to have equitable opportunities. Recipients of this award set a high standard for selfless dedication— moving from words to deeds that have a lasting impact. Ralph Capps is being honored for 50 years of leadership and service to the children of Wake County.
“Ralph Capps stands out in the community with his boundless energy, infectious optimism and incredible loving spirit as he serves the children in Wake County who need it most now for nearly 50 years” said Keith Poston, President, WakeEd Partnership. “It would be impossible to calculate the number of people Ralph has positively influenced over the decades whether they were Club members, their families, staff, Board members and volunteers. Ralph Capps is truly a one of a kind servant leader.”
Additionally, seven remarkable individuals will join the Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame. Since 2013, the WCPSS Hall of Fame has been recognizing individuals who have made an impact locally in the categories of Arts, Athletics, Business, Community Service, Education, and Entrepreneurship. This year’s Hall of Fame class includes:
Arts | Ariana DeBose, Academy-Award Winning Actress
Raleigh native Ariana DeBose is an award-winning actress known for her varying roles onstage and in film and television. DeBose is best known for her groundbreaking performance in Steven Spielberg’s reimagining of WEST SIDE STORY, for which she received Oscar, BAFTA, Critics Choice, and SAG Awards for her star turning role as Anita. Her performance has received universal critical acclaim, with Variety calling her a “radiant force of nature” and Forbes writing “Ariana DeBose shines in an absolutely star-making performance”. In winning her Oscar, she became the first openly queer Afro Latina to win an Academy Award. In 2015, DeBose appeared alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda in the groundbreaking, Tony-winning musical Hamilton as a member of the original cast in both the Broadway and off-Broadway productions, as well as the Emmy Award winning film version. She is a graduate of Wake Forest – Rolesville High School.
Athletics | James “Twiggy” Sanders, Former Harlem Globetrotter
James “Twiggy” Sanders spent 17 years with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters, touring with the basketball club from 1974 to 1991. Sanders played collegiate basketball at Johnson C. Smith where he was one of the leading scorers and rebounders in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). A graduate of then John W. Ligon High School in Raleigh, in recent years Twiggy has both coached and been a substitute teacher in Wake County Public Schools.
Business | Jim Hansen, PNC Bank
James “Jim” M. Hansen, is the regional president of Eastern Carolina and Southeast territory executive for PNC Bank. As senior regional territory executive, he is responsible for PNC’s business, implementing the company’s strategy and delivering the brand in the region. He also leads all sponsorship and philanthropic efforts for the region. In addition to his PNC Bank responsibilities, Hansen is actively engaged with North Carolina CEOs focused on increasing 3rd-grade reading proficiency. He is board chair of the North Carolina State University Board of Visitors and Vice-chair of the North Carolina Bankers Association. He serves on the executive committee of the North Carolina Chamber and the Dix Park Conservancy.
Community Service | Caitlin Gooch, Saddle Up and Read
Caitlin Gooch is an equestrian, mother of four, self-published author and the founder of Saddle Up and Read, a nonprofit program committed to encouraging youth literacy based in Wendell, NC. Caitlin Gooch is passionate about sharing her horses and experiences growing up with them. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from East Carolina University, where she was able to put academic context to the social cycle of systemic racial inequality. While working with youth in her community, Caitlin was exposed to the educational disparities plaguing communities of color and decided to take action, starting with the literacy gap. Leading with equestrian culture, her first passion, Caitlin uses her horses to incentivize reading, making it more fun! In addition to Saddle Up and Read, Caitlin is the co-leader of a 4-H horse club in Wake County, she is an advocate for equestrian helmet safety, and the host of North Carolina Public Radio\’s (WUNC) newest podcast show, The Story Stables.
Education | Peggy Barfield Churn, Educator, School Leader and Equity Champion
Peggy Barfield Churn was passionate about public education, and more specifically equity, diversity, and excellence in schools. She taught for many years in Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) at Boylan, Frances Lacy, Douglas, Hunter, and Underwood Elementary Schools. She completed her Masters in Education at Duke University while she continued working full time and began serving in several leadership roles within WCPSS. Peggy was the first WCPSS Director of Magnet Programs and in that role, she became known as a champion and torch bearer for desegregation and equity in public education Peggy Barfield Churn passed away earlier this year and will be honored posthumously at this year’s Stars of Education event.
Entrepreneurship | Victor Lytvinenko and Sarah Yarborough, Raleigh Denim Workshop
Victor Lytvinenko and Sarah Yarborough started Raleigh Denim Workshop in 2007 in their hometown of Raleigh, NC and were inducted to the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) in 2013. The husband-wife team learned the techniques of traditional American jeans-making through seeking out a series of informal apprenticeships with factory workers, patternmakers, and mechanics throughout the state. Raleigh Denim Workshop\’s products are all produced with a focus on design, process, material, and craft. Sarah and Victor have collaborated on projects with OMA, Patagonia, Kate Spade, John Patrick Organic, Pilsner Urquell – exhibited at Art Basil Miami, and has been designing furniture and upholstery with Bernhardt Design for many years. Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko both attended Wake County Public Schools.
“These seven individuals represent the very best of Wake County and we’re proud to induct them into the Wake County Public Schools Hall of Fame for all they have done and continue to contribute to our wonderful state and community,” said Poston.
Individual tickets for the event are $150 and can be purchased here. Sponsorship opportunities are also available now. Visit WakeEd’s website for more information: www.WakeEd.org/Stars or download PDF here.
About WakeEd Partnership
WakeEd Partnership is an independent, nonprofit organization composed of business and community leaders committed to improving public education. Since 1983, the Partnership has advocated for excellent educational opportunities for all students in the Wake County Public School System. For more information, please visit www.wakeed.org.