Unsung Heroes 2010
Her mission: To improve the lives of kids who might not otherwise have a chance. Morning, noon and night, with unfailing endurance and nerves of steel, she guides countless students to success.
Her work: A mother of three in Kalamazoo, Mich., Deb Yarbrough gave up a career in business to be a hero to hundreds of children in Kalamazoo's public school district. As a Communities In Schools Site Coordinator, she finds resources for at-risk students such as food, clothing and tutors. In addition, she acts as a positive role model and mentor, and gives students the self confidence they need to be leaders. Deb teaches her students the value of giving back, and has helped them organize programs such as holiday food drives and fundraisers for Haiti relief.
Her philosophy: “To be able to connect with students who need our support—and then connect them to services they need—is great. We are making sure children can succeed."
Devoted defender of the underdogs. Constant champion of at-risk kids. Through late nights and weekends, in the face of obstacles great and small, he remains steadfastly committed to all students on his watch.
After spending 12 years in the Air Force, Louis DesChamps decided it was time for a career change. He knew he wanted to make a personal impact on the lives of young people, and in 2007 found his way to Communities In Schools of Montgomery County, South Carolina.
Nicknamed “Mr. D” by his students, DesChamps treats every child in his community as an individual and respects each regardless of race, culture, gender or social status. He loves all children the same, and works hard to understand their reasons for struggling in school. DesChamps takes it upon himself to visit the homes of the students he works with, to understand where they come from and the conditions they face daily. He's not only their Site Coordinator, but their mentor and friend.
In a scant four years, 51 percent of his students have improved their GPA and more than 49 percent have decreased their number of absences. Suspensions for students at his school are down 75 percent. Louis DesChamps is truly a hero for the children in his community.
More determined than a bulldog. Able to find resources for kids in need where others said there were none. Willing to fight for the students in his care, to bring them opportunities they never thought possible.
Communities In Schools Site Coordinator John Magary is known in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio for his power to make connections wherever he goes. From networking with the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team to build state-of-the-art playgrounds, to convincing district administrators to clear the way for students to participate in a self-esteem program at a horse barn, Magary doesn't sleep until he knows his students have the resources they need to succeed.
Parents also know they can call on Magary for help. The number of families he has helped through house fires, burglaries, deaths, illnesses, accidents and job layoffs over the last 10 years is more than enough to prove that Magary is not only a pillar of the community, but a hero to all.
One elementary school secretary summed up John Magary's work ethic and his passion for helping others best: ‘What he has literally brought into the communities, singlehandedly, has been immeasurable. The students, parents, teachers and even leaders in the community have all benefitted from the sheer support and generosity that John has given.’
They call her “Dr. D.” Armed with the power to see into the future, she has helped multitudes of kids fulfill their dreams of success. She tirelessly roams the hallways, dispensing wisdom and helping students in need.
Bernita Dinwiddie began her career as a teacher in 1966, serving special needs students through an emphasis on technology and reading. She worked relentlessly to make sure the children of her elementary school in Chicago were equipped with the resources necessary to excel in the classroom.
Dr. D eventually became the principal of that school, and retired in 2006. But she longed to remain in service. Shortly after moving to Hilliard, Fla., she was recruited out of retirement and became a Communities In Schools Site Coordinator. Today, Dr. D uses her powers year-round to ensure that students are aware of their own skills, and she gives them the tools not only to graduate from high school, but to reach for their dreams and take control of their futures.
One student described his hero Dr. D best: “Dr. D has encouraged me when others thought that I would fail. She has helped me take a look into my future and to know that I am a worthwhile person. I have taken her advice to research careers in order to find one that suits me and that I will truly enjoy.”
With her ability to relate to today's youth, Robin Haggard harnesses the boundless energy that is Girl Power to help female students tap into their inner strengths.
A former student at the South Carolina high school she now serves, Communities In Schools Site Coordinator Robin Haggard provides an extensive support system for all the at-risk girls on campus. For the past three years she has made it a goal that all “her girls” are blanketed with support. In addition to making sure their basic needs, such as having enough food and academic assistance, are met, she teaches all the young women life skills and healthy choices. Robin also works tirelessly to make sure parents are involved in the process by involving them in needs assessments and case plans.
When everyone else regards a student as a lost cause, Robin refuses to give up hope and continues to treat that student with the utmost respect. Through moral guidance and endless support, she teaches girls to have pride and to look forward to positive futures.
Beyond the Classroom Blog
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