Cassaundra Bell, 2016-2017 Outstanding NEHS Advisor
With pride, National English Honor Society (NEHS) recognizes the leadership and contributions of Cassaundra Bell, Chapter Advisor at Woodland High School in Stockbridge, GA, by awarding her the 2016-2017 John L. Manear Outstanding Advisor Award. Bell was nominated by her principal, colleagues, and a former student, all of whom shared wonderful descriptions of the passion she brings to the English classroom as well as to her NEHS chapter.
This award is named for John Manear, whose career has now spanned fifty-two years in education, almost all of them as a classroom teacher at Seton-La Salle High School in Pittsburgh, PA. Manear, a founding member of NEHS, has served on the Advisory Council since the inception of the honor society in 2005. Manear’s inspirational story of service to the profession sets a standard of excellence that Bell certainly emulates.
Among the NEHS activities Bell has initiated are:
- organizing after-school tutoring where NEHS members tutor students in need of help in their English classes;
- organizing a yearly book drive in which over 800 books have been donated to community organizations and schools;
- spear-heading a field trip for NEHS members to visit “Books for Africa,” where the students sorted donated books to be sent to schools in Africa;
- encouraging her members to volunteer in local libraries and read to individuals unable to read themselves; and
- involving her chapter in “Read Across America” at local elementary schools and leading the faculty at Woodland High School with its own Read Across America Day, promoting activities in every discipline in the school; all classes were involved in reading and writing activities, partnering with the Literacy Team (also led by Bell) to create lessons for the day.
These activities are just a few of the many in which Bell has modeled her love of literacy.
Woodland High School Principal Dr. Shannon Ellis shares the following statement from Bell’s colleagues: “Ms. Bell is not just an English teacher, she is a miracle worker. She often wears three to five hats at one time while maintaining a smile and positive attitude. Her classroom is always filled with students who need her help or who just want to sit and read in the wonderful learning environment she has created.” Finally, former student, Maddie Pascavage, says, “[Ms. Bell] uses every moment as an opportunity to teach, inspiring growth in her students as scholars and people. She is one of the most impactful teachers I have met in my entire career as a student.” On top of all of this, we understand Bell plays a mean saxophone!
NEHS celebrates the accomplishments of Cassaundra Bell as an outstanding representative of NEHS Advisors who dedicate themselves to excellence in English studies. Bell receives a $500 award and a plaque commemorating her service to NEHS.
National English Honor Society (NEHS) was proud to learn of the national recognition Maya Eashwaran, a member of the Milton High School Chapter, received. Her blog details her wonderful accomplishment of being named a 2016 National Student Poet:
My name is Maya Eashwaran, and I am the 2016 National Student Poet for the Southeast! I am a senior at Milton High School in Milton, GA, and a member of my school’s chapter of NEHS.
The National Student Poets program is the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work and is presented by three sponsors: the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. As a 2016 National Student Poet, I have been honored with so many amazing opportunities, like meeting First Lady Michelle Obama, traveling to the Dodge Poetry Festival, and speaking at the National Writing Project plenary in Atlanta. I also have the honor of working with four other National Student Poet recipients from around the country and am constantly inspired by their work and their dedication to the arts.
Poetry, to me, is the most expressive and alive form of art. It provides me with the tools to speak freely about my heritage and my beliefs and gives me a platform for artistic expression. It allows me to construct worlds out of words and has taught me so much about the place of art and writing in society.
As a National Student Poet, I have the amazing opportunity to construct and implement a service project focusing on engaging new communities with poetry in my region. I’m so excited to reach out and spread my love of poetry with my community!
Please visit the National Student Poets program website to learn more. I highly recommend the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards to any high school student interested in the visual and literary arts! Applications for the 2018 Scholastic Awards will open in September.
2016 National Student Poet—Southeast
Milton High School Chapter
Milton High School, Milton, GA
The National English Honor Society (NEHS) motto, “Gelest Sceal Mid Are,” is Old English for “duty goes with honor.” Every year, chapters engage in outstanding projects that exemplify putting the motto into action. This year, NEHS has the opportunity to participate in a joint project with Sigma Tau Delta, the university-level English honor society, and with Sigma Kappa Delta, the honor society for Two-Year Colleges. The project will help raise funds for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides books to enhance the literacy of children in low-income communities.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
The Imagination Library fosters a love of reading among preschool children and their families by providing one specially-selected book each month from birth to the child’s fifth birthday. According to David Dotson, the president of The Dollywood Foundation, “Dolly started the Imagination Library as a gift to the children in her home county [in East Tennessee]. We never dreamed this effort would now span several countries and will soon attain an incredible milestone—gifting books to 1 million children per month.” The Imagination Library’s 2015 Annual Report highlighted some of the program’s achievements during its 20th anniversary year:
- 2 million books donated in 2015
- 9 million books donated since 1995
- A new book is gifted every 3 seconds
- Over 915,000 children received a book in December
The program has expanded far beyond America and now operates in Canada, the UK, and Australia, with additional efforts in Belize to discover the program’s potential effectiveness in emerging countries.
Fostering Literacy at the Chapter Level
NEHS has the opportunity to help the Imagination Library reach more students and gift books to over 1 million children in need. We challenge all chapters to sponsor ten children. That is only $250 to provide ten children with a year’s worth of books! This year, proceeds will be split among South Carolina, Arkansas, and Kentucky—three states greatly in need of our help—along with the company that produces books in Braille.
Chapters should mail a check for the money collected to the Central Office by June 1. Checks should be made out to National English Honor Society (NEHS), and the chapter and school name should be entered in the memo line.
NEHS Central Office
Attn: Imagination Library
Department of English
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
All money raised will be presented to the Imagination Library in a single check. Please do not send money directly to the Imagination Library.