WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A district attorney, a school superintendent, and community leaders make up some of the winners of this year’s UNCW Razor Walker Award winners.
The Watson College of Education will present the awards to six leaders whose contributions they say have made a difference in the lives of young people in North Carolina.
This year’s recipients are Ben David, district attorney for New Hanover and Pender counties, Columbus County Schools Superintendent Alan Faulk, career educator Emma Jackson, community leaders in education Deloris and Nick Rhodes, and former N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Ward.
“Vision, tenacity, courage and sacrifice take many different forms and are narrated in our lives in a powerful array of stories and portraits, as represented by this year’s Razor Walker Award winners,” said WCE Dean Van Dempsey. “They remind us of the successes to be celebrated and the positive impact leaders can have on children, families and communities. They also inspire us to embrace the opportunities that lie within the challenges before us in the education and public service community.”
The awards, named in recognition of the “razor’s edge” that recipients walk to support education and youth, have been presented to advocates from education, government, business and community organizations since 1993.
Honoring community leaders for their service on behalf of students and educators in North Carolina is representative of the commitment to engagement and community partnerships that are integral to UNCW’s Strategic Plan.
UNCW says through diverse careers and volunteer service, each recipient has shown a passion to help children achieve their full potential.
Benjamin R. David has served as district attorney for New Hanover and Pender counties since 2004. He is a founding member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Youth Violence and the Safer Schools Task Force, and helped introduce several programs to benefit young people and their families, including Teen Court, Hometown Hires and an alternative sentencing program for minor youth who commit traffic violations. Every year, he speaks to thousands of public school students about community safety and positive life choices.
Alan Faulk has devoted his entire career to serving the children of Columbus County as a high school science teacher, principal, central office administrator and, since 2011, superintendent of schools. He is a relentless student advocate known for his no-excuses philosophy to do what it takes to help students succeed. During his tenure, the Columbus County school district has moved out of low-performing status and has decreased the dropout rate to 1.97 percent.
Emma Jackson’s career with New Hanover County Schools spanned more than 52 years prior to her retirement in December 2016. As a teacher, assistant principal and principal, she served students at several local schools before becoming director of instructional services and Title I and, later, federal programs director. She is a recipient of the governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine award.
Deloris and Nick Rhodes are passionate community leaders and youth advocates. They moved to Wilmington 16 years ago following Nick’s careers in the Air Force and in business and Deloris’ career in education. Nick has served on numerous boards, including the New Hanover County Board of Education, Smart Start of New Hanover County, Communities in Schools of Cape Fear, Kids Making It and 100 Black Men. Deloris was an outreach liaison for Watson College from 2007 to 2014, and a founding member of UNCW’s Dropout Prevention Coalition and the Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington. She has served on the Governor’s Task Force on Safer Schools and boards for many local organizations, including the Community Boys and Girls Club and the Cape Fear Literary Council.
Mike Ward has more than 35 years of public education service. He was North Carolina’s state superintendent of public instruction from 1997 to 2004. During his tenure, the state earned a reputation for rapid progress in the performance of its public schools. Ward currently serves as a consultant to state and local education leaders. A three-time graduate of North Carolina State University, he serves as an executive coach at NC State’s Northeast Leadership Academy.
The awards will be presented at a reception at the Burney Center on April 25.