Recipients of the African American Educator Awards line up Feb. 12 at Second Baptist Church. Credit: Heidi Randhava

The seventh celebration of the African American Educator Awards was held at the morning worship service on Sunday, Feb. 12 at Second Baptist Church. The church’s annual ceremony honors educators who have made outstanding contributions to public elementary and secondary education in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School District 202.

Former Evanston Township High School Principal Denise Martin chaired a committee of current and retired educators that accepted nominations from students, teachers, community members, parents and administrators.

Members of the Second Baptist Church choir lead the congregation and visitors in song on Feb. 12. (The full choir is not currently gathering due to the pandemic.)

In her welcome remarks, Martin said the program was a vision of the Rev. Michael Nabors, senior pastor at Second Baptist, “and an acknowledgement of the value of education and educators in our community.”

Martin asked all those “who work with children in any capacity” to stand, or to respond in the chat if they were using the church’s livestream platform.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Martin said to those standing or responding, amid a big round of applause. Throughout the service, there was recognition, appreciation and respect for those who work in Evanston’s schools – inspiring, nurturing and empowering children to be all they can be.

The 2023 African American Educator Award recipients were:

  • Derwin Avery, substitute teacher, Orrington Elementary School.
  • Shannon Boatwright, content facilitator, Oakton Elementary School/Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center.
  • Caroline Cooper, math teacher, ETHS.
  • Lori Mighty-Succes, family law attorney and Spanish teacher, Chute Middle School.
  • Felisha Parsons, teacher and founder of Armor Down Girls, Oakton Elementary School.
  • Vonetta Robinson, social worker, Walker Elementary School.
  • Sadie Ruff, support staff, Lincolnwood Elementary School
  • Ava Thompson Greenwell, professor of journalism, Northwestern University.
  • Jennifer Tertulien, teacher and co-founder, Black Girl Magic book club, Lincolnwood Elementary School.
  • Chantel Washington, teacher, McGaw YMCA Child Care Center, Center for Talent Development.

The committee also honored the Evanston organization Officer and Gentlemen Academy, a male mentoring program that partners with the Evanston Police Department and was co-founded by Officer Adam Howard.

Serving with Martin on the award selection committee were Kitty Fulce, Lisa Killion, Felisha Parsons, Krissie Harris and Pat Savage-Williams.

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.

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  1. Felisha Parsons, PhD is an educator supreme. Five years ago she began Armor Down Girls at Oakton School to provide confidence to young girls, 8-14 years of age. The Rotary Clubs of Evanston (Noon), Evanston Lighthouse, and Skokie Valley are supporting a day at RI Headquarters to celebrate this program with 100 girls.