Simmons honors education advocates with Luminary Awards

Three education advocates were honored Thursday evening with the Luminary Award for their work in education. Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College; The Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at Scottish Rite Hospital for Children; and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America were recipients of the award.

“This year’s awards show the power of individuals,” said Leon Simmons Endowed Dean David Chard in a press release. “We see mentors give of themselves as they become a consistent presence in the lives of boys and girls who need them. We find teachers and doctors taking extra steps and care to treat children with learning disorders. And lastly, we look to a true leader in higher education who rebuilds confidence and direction in a historically black college.”

The Luminary Award was created by the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development in 2009. The award is given annually to three recipients: local, regional and national. It honors organizations and individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to education.

Sorrell has served as president of Dallas’ Paul Quinn College for seven years where he has brought new recognition, programs and funding to the school.

Some of his developments include creating a community garden to support food banks and building a new residential center with a $4.4 million donation from Trammell S. Crow.

While improving Paul Quinn College, Sorrell continues to study for at the University of Pennsylvania to receive his executive doctorate in higher education management.

This year’s regional award goes to the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning at Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas. Waites was established in 1965 as one of the first programs to identify and treat children with learning disorders. It was the first to define dyslexia in 1968.

The center also developed a two-year intervention program, the Dyslexia Training Program, which is used throughout the U.S. It provides training, evaluation, research and treatment to children struggling with dyslexia.

The final, national award recipient is Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. The program, created over 100 years ago, acts as a mentor program for over 300,000 children in the U.S. and the world.

The program pairs mentors with children ages six to 18 to develop positive relationships and encourage positive behavior. Children in the program have better grades and are more likely to graduate high school.

All three recipients have impacted their community by empowering individuals and encouraging education efforts throughout the country.

“Their work exemplifies what all of us can do to elevate what’s important to the development of children and youth,” Chard said.

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