Latest News

Celebrate Women's History Month at Rosa Parks: Women of Courage Breakfast March 4

Women in education will be honored at this year's Rosa Parks -- Women of Courage Breakfast, sponsored by Sisters, Inc.

Charity Fleming Smith, principal associate for education at Fetterman and Associates in Little Rock, Ark. will speak and three local educators will be honored: Gloria Battle, retired teacher and librarian and CEO of Battle and Battle Funeral Home; Ann McDuffie, headmaster and principal at St. Luke School; and Jenella F. Pendleton, retired principal of Reese Road Leadership Academy.

"Education is the foundation for upward mobility, so we really need to pay homage and to shout out to our educators in this community," Sisters, Inc. vice president Kathy Jones says.

More than 1,000 women usually attend the event names for Rosa Parks (1913-2005) to remind people that "One Person Can Change the World."

This year's three honorees are examples of that motto.

While Jones says their are many educators in the community that deserve recognition, this year's three honorees stood out because of "their ability to relate to children at all scales... The compassion and love they have for creativity in the classrooms to create a better learning environment for all the children."

Each honoree is known for being adaptable to various styles of teaching to help children understand lessons.

"This is how learning really takes place. It's an opportunity to share experiences with those we come in contact with. Some children learn by storytelling," Jones says.

Smith, a national consultant and lecturer, is the former Assistant Commissioner for the Arkansas Department of Education in the Division of Academic Accountability. In this capacity, she helped to ensure that all school districts in Arkansas were held accountable for improving school performance. During her tenure, Arkansas received national recognition in a number of areas, including rigorous academic standards, accountability, reporting, teacher quality and consistent academic improvement.

Helping good students continue their education is important to Sisters, Inc. The group works with Muscogee County students who show academic promise to become first generation college graduates.

A main goal of the group is to provide scholarships for kids who might not otherwise be able to go to college.

"They have the will and the motivation but the resources aren't there," she says.

Sisters, Inc. also helps students by providing workshops on resume writing and other college and life skills preparation. Group members also take students on educational field trips and teach them about the courageous leaders -- including Rosa Park -- that have fought for equal rights.

"We want to make sure that the current population of children will remember her courageous act. What she did by her willingness to step forward to give us a better chance to have equal rights across the board," Jones says.

Rosa Parks - Women of Courage Breakfast

What: Presented by SISTERS, INC.

When: 7-9 a.m. Monday, March 4.

Where: Columbus Ironworks Convention and Trade Center

Cost: $25 each, includes breakfast.

Contact: Kathy Jones (706) 321-1724 or one of the ticket locations

Ann R. McDuffie

The principal of St. Luke School began her career in education as a math and science teacher at Rothchild Middle school where she also served as the science department chair from 1979-86. She served as the Muscogee County School District's Elementary Science Consultant for five years prior to becoming the principal at Edgewood Elementary School and Midland Academy from 1991 through 2003. In 2003 she became principal of St Luke School.

This 2013 honoree was the recipient of the Innovative Teaching Mini-grant from the Georgia Department of Education, was the MCSD nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching and is a recipient of a Life Membership in the Georgia PTA. IN 1996, Ms. McDuffie was selected as a Georgia recipient of the Milken Foundation National Educator Award.

She is married to Daniel P. McDuffie and is the proud mother of two children -- Michele McDuffie, a wealth management consultant with Waddell and Reed in Charlotte, N.C. and Ross McDuffie, an advertising director with the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

Jeanella Fuller Pendleton

The retired principal of Reese Road Leadership Academy earned degrees from Tuskegee (Institute) University and Troy University. She was employed by the Muscogee County School District as a special education teacher at Davis Elementary and Marshall Middle Schools. She also taught at Marshall Middle school where she was one of the Top Ten Teacher finalist in MCSD in 1992.She became the principal of Reese Road (Elementary) Leadership Academy where she served until her retirement in November of 2012. Under her leadership at Reese Road, the school was awarded two Pay for Performance Grants and received numerous recognitions as a Distinguished Non-Title I school. The most courageous undertaking during her tenure as principal was leading the school through transition and conversion to a charter school. This intensive process resulted in the approval by the State Board of Education, Charter School Division and Muscogee County School Board for Reese Road to be designated as a "Charter Conversion" School. This charter school was the first to be awarded under the leadership of an African American principal in Muscogee County School District. Mrs. Pendleton distinguished herself professionally by serving on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education since 2003. Her awards are numerous included: Outstanding Asst. Principal in the state of Georgia 1993; Heard Humanitarian Award as an "Unsung Hero"; Gateway Schools Principal of the Year, 2011; Passion for Education Award,2010; 50 Most Influential Citizens; Woman of Achievement-Girl Scouts; Outstanding Principal/Boss of the Year.

Jeanella and her husband Howard have been happily married for 38 years and have two adult daughters: Crystal Shahid (Zaki,Sr.) and Christine Pendleton. She is the proud and doting grandmother to "Deuce" (Zaki, Jr.).

Gloria Lowe Battle

The retired teacher and librarian and CEO of Battle and Battle Funeral Home was born and raised in Hatchechubbee, Ala. She earned degrees from Alabama State University and Atlanta University. She taught in the Muscogee County School District for more than 20 years and was head librarian at Dawson Elementary, Radcliffe Elementary and Harrison Avenue Elementary. She was also head librarian at the South Columbus Branch Library when it opened in 1993. Since 1998 she's been working parttime as the evening librarian at Columbus Technical College. In 1997, she received the Georgia Outstanding Citizen Award and in 2002 was honored as a Gracious Lady of Georgia. She's attended both of President Barack Obama's inaugurations.