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Legacy of former NCAE president to live on at school

Legacy of former NCAE president to live on at school
December 29
06:30 2016

Rodney Ellis Literacy Dream Center at Philo-Hill

BY TEVIN STINSON

THE CHRONICLE

Although his return to the classroom was cut short, the legacy of Rodney Ellis will live on at Philo-Hill Middle School forever.

After serving as president of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), Ellis returned to the classroom this year to teach reading skills at Philo-Hill. Just a few weeks into his return, Ellis passed away following a short illness, but that was more than enough time for him to leave his mark.

After working at the school for only two weeks, Ellis set the wheels in motion to start a book room, expand the school’s food pantry, and start several mentoring programs at the school.  Last week that vision became reality when a ceremony was held at the school to dedicate a newly renovated multipurpose learning space in honor of Ellis.

During the ceremony held inside the gymnasium, Superintendent Dr. Beverly Emory said the spirit of Ellis was in the building.

“He knew what the relationship between school and community could look like,” said Emory. “I think today is an opportunity for us to recommit to the possibilities that all of us can excel. Rodney Ellis had the vision to see that in people when they couldn’t see it in themselves.”

Even when he left the classroom, Ellis’ mission to inspire students from low-income households remained the same. Emory said what impressed her most about Ellis was his willingness to return to the classroom after serving as NCAE president. She said that says a lot about what kind of person Ellis was.

Current Forsyth County Association of Educators (FCAE) President Rhonda Mays said she couldn’t think of a better way to carry on the legacy of her friend. She said she is proud of the work Ellis has set forth.

Also carrying on the Ellis legacy at Philo-Hill is Rodney Ellis’ daughter Gabrielle Ellis. Shortly after her father died, Gabrielle Ellis not only started teaching at the school where her father worked, but she also took over his classroom. Ellis said she is grateful for the opportunity to step in for her father. She said, although she knows she has some big shoes to fill, the Philo-Hill family has made her feel at home.

As she stood before hundreds of students, teachers, educators and family members, Ellis said what she admired most about her father was his passion and willingness to fight, two things she takes with her every day she walks in the classroom.

“My father was a go hard or go home type of person. There was nothing you could do to dim his fire,” she said. “He was a servant leader, and that’s something I inspire to be.”

Philo-Hill Principal Dr. Essie McCoy said the classroom now known as The Rodney Ellis Literacy Dream Center is to make sure every student has access to the tools they need to be successful in the classroom and outside.  She mentioned the Junior League has already donated has over 1,000 books. They will also be taking donations  the food pantry, and ongoing clothing drive for students.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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