By Outer Banks Voice on March 4, 2021
For the last 20 years, the driving force behind the success of the After-School Enrichment Program at Manteo Elementary School has come from the radiant, positive energy of its site coordinator, Shelawn Burton. “She just welcomes you in,” said Kelly Flora, director of elementary education at the school. “If anyone needs assistance, training, support, Shelawn has it covered.”
“Whenever Shelawn is in the room it lights up,” said Marsha Riibner-Cady, a colleague of Burton’s for the last nine years.
In recognition of her two decades creating a safe, nurturing and fun after-school program, the NC Education Lottery has named Burton one of the 10 winners of its 2020 School Heroes program. The program is designed to showcase the positive impact teachers, principals, and other school workers have in public schools every day. Parents, teachers, and community members submitted more than 4,900 nominations of individuals making a difference in their schools.
In addition, both the School Hero and their school receive a $10,000 award. Burton said she plans to use her award to make a down payment on a home, a lifelong dream. Flora said the school’s award would be used to buy school supplies for both inside and outside the classroom.
The after-school program that Burton coordinates helps parents who work past regular school hours because children in grades K-5 get help with their homework and get to participate in art, science, math, and social activities.
Over the years, Burton has seen that the kids who graduate into middle school, always seem to find their way back to her afterschool classroom.
“They all come back to see me,” she said. “It’s amazing to see because they use what I taught them and show it to the little ones. They volunteer here because they love it so much. That’s the best thing ever.”
Money raised by the lottery assists many of those School Heroes — including $386 million this school year that supports the work of school support staff such as office assistants and custodians. Additional money will help build and repair schools, support the N.C. Pre-K program for “at-risk” four-year-olds, provide college scholarships and grants based on financial need, and help meet school transportation needs.