Ap2w, LLC hosted the third Annual “Making a Difference in the Lives of Others” Fundraising Event on December 28, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at The Wine Gallery located at 220 South Main Street. Proceeds from the event help to support scholarships and charities. This year proceeds will support the Kaye S. Simmons Scholarship and the Woodruff High School Athletics Department.
Derek Jones, President of #Ap2w, LLC started the Kaye S. Simmons Scholarship with the support and blessing of the Simmons family in 2017 to honor the life, legacy and impact of educators like Kaye S. Simmons, a long-time teacher at Woodruff Elementary School. Simmons was Derek’s fifth grade teacher. During the last few years of her fight with cancer, Derek connected with Simmons and her family on social media. Whenever he could, he visited with Simmons during hospital stays and had frequent telephone conversations with her.
During the event, Derek shared examples of how Simmons made a positive difference in his life. He also shared Simmons was one example of many excellent educators within Spartanburg School District 4. Members of the Simmons family attended the event and have since its inception
The Kaye S. Simmons Scholarship has been awarded to five recipients. All five recipients are graduates of Woodruff High School and attended the college of their choice. Two recipients attended the event, Moranda Floyd, a second year student at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina and Kayla Cooper, a first year student at the University of South Carolina Upstate.
Floyd said, “Being awarded the Kaye S. Simmons Scholarship is awesome. Its access into the #Ap2w team of supporters and mentors. It’s really like family and I love being an #Ap2w Ambassador.”
Cooper said, “I am grateful to be a scholarship recipient. It really helped me successfully complete my first semester of college.”
In addition to raising funds to help support scholarships, the event is also a platform to honor previous and current educators as well as other leaders in the community.
Mary Ann Brady, math teacher at Woodruff High School was honored as the 2019 #Ap2w Teacher of the Year. “I love teaching in Spartanburg School District 4. Teachers are supported, and I have taught some amazing students like these in the room tonight,” said Brady. Her teaching career started in the Spartanburg School District 4 at the Woodruff High School in 1988.
Gloria Young, a math and science teacher at Woodruff Elementary School and Vanessa Ray, an ELA and social studies teacher at Woodruff Elementary School were honored as Impact Educators. Both have more than three decades of teaching experience.
Young said, “I am passionate about education and the success of my students. I have an eye for seeing students who may not be doing what they are supposed to be doing and I have no problem helping them refocus. I love my students: that’s why I have been teaching for so many years.” Young grew up in the Woodruff community and attended the Historic New Bethel School.
Ray will complete 37 years as a teacher at the end of this school year. She talked about her first day of class speech to her students. At the beginning of the year, she assures them that they will learn in a safe and nurturing classroom environment. “I want my students to know that they can and will learn, be cared for, and encouraged to be their very best. Kids need to know they are loved and love is what they receive in my class,” said Ray.
All three educators expressed gratitude for their awards and appreciation to reconnect with former students and colleagues. Each received a plaque, a watch, a bouquet of flowers, and a gift card.
Garrett Mitchell, aka “The WHS Stat Man” for the Woodruff High School Athletics Department, was honored with the Impact Leader Award for his leadership and service for more than two decades. Mitchell has compiled basketball stats and athletic records from the 1950s to 2019.
He shared his experience as a mentee of Coach Willie L. Varner, who assigned him the task of keeping stats when Mitchell was still a student Woodruff High School. Mitchell credits his tenure simply to loving athletics at Woodruff and to getting attached to each group of athletes and wanting to see their success. “After I graduated from high school I figured, I’d keep stats for three or four years, and then move on. Twenty years later, I am still doing it, and I love it. I will continue in my role as long as the leadership will allow me. I know there were times when they could have discontinued my role, but they never have. For that, I am grateful,” stated Mitchell.
“We are excited to celebrate with Woodruff community, classmates, and alumni who attended the event this year, along with other leaders and our former teachers. I am a firm believer that you ‘give people their flowers while they can smell them.’ We have some teachers and leaders in our community who go above and beyond in commitment and unselfish dedication impacting the lives of the people they serve every day. Making time and creating a platform to say thank you is the least we can do. The Athletic Department at Woodruff High School played a vital role in my development as a person, leader, and athlete. It was also instrumental in ability to secure a scholarship for college. This year we want to support the Athletics Department at Woodruff High School a donation to express our gratitude,” said Jones in summary.
Other guests included Kenneth Gist, Mayor of the City of Woodruff, William “Bill” Chumley, S.C. House of Representatives District 35 and Cynthia Hayes-Lee, the 2018 Ap2w Teacher of the Year.
Disclosure: Tracy Sanders, Vareva Evans-Harris, and Garrett Mitchell are on staff at The Woodruff Times. Tracy Sanders is a relative of the Simmons Family.