Position: ROW Program Teacher School: Heyward Career and Technology Center
School District: Richland School District One
City, State: Columbia, South Carolina
About the Nominee: Melva Kennedy works really hard to make her classes interesting for her students! Although her students may face some challenges, Ms. Kennedy believes they can master anything if given the chance. As such, she holds them to high expectations. She uses her life story and struggles, which include surviving stage four cancer, as a reminder that one is not defined by their disabilities, but by their faith and determination. It is hard to explain the fun she has in planning and designing her lessons, for which she often solicits the input of her family. Ms. Kennedy credits her assistant as being a big part of her success with the students, as they work hand in hand to make their class interesting and fun. In their classroom, every moment is a teachable moment. Ms. Kennedy's nominator, who wishes to remain anonymous, often hears about the field studies Ms. Kennedy plans for her class so that her students are exposed to everything available. In one instance, Ms. Kennedy had a student who was in need of winter clothes and happened to be a similar size as her daughter. She took her daughter shopping to purchase two outfits for the student. The stories go on and on about the things she and her assistant do to help the students feel welcomed, blessed and safe. When she walks into her class, she gives her students the same love, care and attention she does for her family. Some of her accomplishments include: -being named “Teacher of the Month” at Heyward Career Center in April 2013 and March 2015 -being named the 2016-17 Teacher of the Year at Heyward Career Center -being awarded the Colonial Life strong school grant in 2015-16 -Cancer Survivor since 2004, member of the Lymphoma Society -Her story is featured on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) site to help bring awareness to lymphoma -In 2004, she was featured in a national magazine, "Figures," as one of three women who overcame challenges in their lives.
Additionally, she has created and organized several program activities, including: -a mentoring program for at-risk kids that provides students the opportunity to work with community leaders. -a teen pregnancy prevention program that listed Bishopville High School as “School to watch” in S.C. -the Row Ball for students with special needs -Senior Day for students with special needs -Black History Movie day for the entire ROW program -the end of the year celebration for the ROW program -a field trip to Alvin S. Glenn Detention center for at-risk students
Other significant contributions Ms. Kennedy has made to help students include: -Wrote curriculum for the Hospitality and Tourism program -Maintained and balanced the student activity and grocery store account -Purchased and maintained inventory of various supplies and equipment -Introduce ServSafe to the Row program to help students with special needs become certified in safety and sanitation She is truly dedicated to her profession and to having a positive impact on her students, their parents and the community!