Engaging Families for Student Success

A Look Back at the 10th Annual Gala: Honoring Our Parent Leaders & Volunteers

November 22, 2016

Our 10th Annual Gala has come and gone, but we still have reasons to celebrate: the Gala raised over $10,600! All proceeds raised at the Gala will go towards Turning the Page’s efforts to engage families in DC and Chicago to help students succeed in school and beyond. The Gala was a night filled of dancing, honoring parent leaders and volunteers and guest bidding on items from the silent auction. The silent auction was a great success due to the generosity of many restaurants in the DC-area and other businesses. Items included JetBlue plane tickets, Wizard tickets, Walt Disney World and Wonderworks passes, gym memberships, a one-night stay at the Ritz Carlton, and so much more! Guests enjoyed food from Geppetto Catering and music from James DJ-HD at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery in Chinatown.

During the Gala we recognized parent leaders, the teacher of the year and two Carpe Librum Bookstore volunteers. All honorees were acknowledged for their hard work and dedication to Turning the Page’s mission and efforts to engage families. Our parent leaders were recognized for their involvement, advocacy and leadership in their children’s schools. Learn more about our parent and teacher leaders in our partner schools and our volunteers of the year.

ms-harrisMs. Shanice Harris, received the Buffy Atkins Memorial Award and is the parent leader of the year in DC. Last year, Ms. Harris testified before the DC Educational Council about bullying which led to the creation of a social-emotional learning curriculum at Turner Elementary School. She successfully advocated for a school garden and helped start a PTO at Turner where she serves as the secretary. She is leading the creation of a school garden because she believes it’s important for kids to have “access to fruits and vegetables and to learn more about healthy eating” and eventually hopes to incorporate the food from the garden into school lunches. For Ms. Harris, Turning the Page “always willing to lean a hand and goes above and beyond [to help] with projects by giving information and resources.” Ms. Harris will continue to work in her children’s schools and wants to motivate and encourage other parents.

Parents are already leaders to their kids, so to be recognized as the Parent Leader is a big deal because I’m seen as a leader among the parents [which is] amazing.”



Ms. Shelia Holmes, Turning the Page’s Parent Leader of the Year in Chicago, is receiving the Buffy Atkins Memorial Award. Ms. Holmes is the chairperson of her daughter’s school, Kellman Elementary, council, where she is involved in the school’s budget and improvement plan. Ms. Holmes attended every single community night and TTP event since 2015. She is an adjunct professor of psychology and school counseling at City Colleges of Chicago and Concordia University. Ms. Holmes sees Turning the Page as bridging the gap between the Lawndale Community and the schools. She states that at community nights, “parents learn how to better communicate with their children, teachers and schools staff, along with how to better interpret their children’s test scores and different ways to become more involved in their child’s learning environment.”

“I am a firm believer that action speaks louder than words and that is why I stepped up as a parent leader. I want to lead by example, and to become the model that other parents want to mimic.”


ms-brownMs. Tara Brown is receiving the Community Advocate of the Year Award. Ms. Brown serves on the Chancellor’s Parent Cabinet as a Ward 8 representative and advocates for anti-bullying and improving school climate. She has testified before the DC Education Council and was invited to be a member of the mayoral advisory committee to help with the selection of the next Chancellor. She also served as the treasurer of  Patterson Elementary School’s PTO for two years. When Ms. Brown was preparing to speak before the City Council, she learned about the learning conditions and performances of Ward 8 students which compelled her to do what she could to be a voice for families in Ward 8. Ms. Brown says, “I feel compelled to take what I have learned from Turing the Page and use it to bring attention to the needs in my community. I hope that if I can make a good enough case with the right people, it will result in changes that will create better opportunities for children in Ward 8.” According to Ms. Brown, Turning the Page has created a pathway for advocacy and has been a catalyst for all her leadership endeavors.

“It has been my mission to be an advocate for the families in my ward that are directly affected by the problems plaguing our lower income communities as it relates to education. I want to continue to remind DCPS and policy makers about this community.”


ms-bondMs. Sherri Bond is receiving the Rising Leader of the Year Award. Ms. Bond currently serves on the Early Childhood Policy Committee, Homeless Outreach Committee, Parent Teacher Association, and has worked with Turning the Page for over three years. Ms. Bond has testified on behalf of the Garfield community at the DC Committee on Education this spring and is dedicated to improving the Garfield school community.


Ms. Chms-reyristine Rey is receiving the Teacher of the Year Award. Ms. Rey has been teaching for over 11 years and has been teaching at Garfield Elementary School and an ally to TTP’s mission for the past 7 years. At Community Nights, Ms. Rey provides resources for parents and shares information on home learning activities. Ms. Rey has a great ability to engage families and is dedicated to ensuring family engagement remains a priority at Garfield. She serves on TTP”s Family Engagement Committee and is the Early Childhood Lead. For Ms. Rey, Turning the Page is a vital link between families and schools because the connections formed between families and teachers during Community Nights are invaluable. Ms. Rey has witnessed the positive impact that Community Nights have had on the Garfield Community.

“Community Nights have empowered families and encouraged true family-teacher partnerships. I appreciate the opportunity to engage with families in a casual setting where we can really get to know each other better on a personal level but also collaborate on important topics that will lead to student success.”



Ms. Belle Elving is receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award for her work at Carpe Librum Bookstore. Ms. Elving has volunteered at Carpe Librum for just over a year. She is being recognized for her relentless efforts and the excitement she brings to Carpe Librum. She helps process and organize book donations for the bookstore. Ms. Elving worked as a journalist for The Washington Post and as a writer in Development at NPR.

Ms. Barbara Ormond is receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award for her work at Carpe Librum Bookstore. Ms. Ormond has volunteered with Carpe Librum for over three years. She is being honored for going above and beyond in her volunteering at Carpe Librum. Ms. Ormond, who is retired, worked in the health care and health policy field.

“The bookstore lets me put my interests in reading and recycling together in service to a great cause.”


Thank you to all donors, staff, volunteers, parents and supporters who helped make the Gala possible and successful! Thank you to all attendees who celebrated the parents and Turning the Page as we continue to engage families and the community in DC and Chicago. We can’t wait to see you next year!