Engaged Families and Communities

Gina Jacobs (right) brings clothes for students to Oak Hill Principal Patrice Faison (left).

Gina Jacobs – Extraordinary Volunteer

NEA joins family and friends in mourning the tragic death of Gina Jacobs.  NEA came to know the beloved High Point, N.C. wife, mother and community hero as a result of her extraordinary volunteer work at Oak Hill Elementary School. Oak Hill is one of 30 intensive sites in the organization’s Priority Schools Campaign (PSC).

For students, Jacobs was a passionate and fierce advocate, leaving no stone unturned or opportunity missed, in her seemingly never-ending quest to make sure that things like bicycles and books—and ultimately success—were within their reach.

For Oak Hill staff and the Guilford County Association of Educators, Jacobs was that dependable partner, always going above and beyond in a shared vision of every student’s basic right to a quality education.

A May 2011 NEA profile bestowed the title “volunteer extraordinaire” on Jacobs and remains one of the most popular stories on the Priority Schools Campaign web site.

At the Priority Schools Campaign Forum in New Orleans late last year, the new grandmother proved to be quite popular. Indeed many had heard about the super volunteer who was not only making a way—but making a difference. They were eager to learn how to earn and leverage community support.

At the time she admitted to having mixed feelings with being away from her family mere days after the birth of her first grandchild. And yet with her characteristic selflessness, she shared agreement with her family that transforming struggling schools was too important which made the trip one not to be missed. From the forum’s start to end, she was as excited to share stories about Oak Hill, as she was about those of her new granddaughter.

“Strong family and community support can make a struggling school, a stellar school,” said Denise Alston, senior policy analyst for NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign. “Oak Hill’s transition from one of the lowest performing elementary schools in the state to star on the rise, is due in part to Gina’s efforts. She was more than a volunteer extraordinaire; she was a champion and a true gem. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and the entire Oak Hill and High Point community.”

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Classroom Superheroes

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PSC Superhero Keith G. Pemberton

Keith G. Pemberton is a social worker at Oak Hill Elementary School in High Point, N.C., where he has built a strong and steady pipeline for parental involvement, specifically among fathers and male mentors. Check out his Classroom Superhero profile and leave some words of encouragement.

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