SMU’s Simmons School honors advocates for education with 2015 Luminary Awards

SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development honored three outstanding advocates for students from pre-K through college with 2015 Luminary Awards on Thursday, Jan. 22.

This year’s honorees:

Michael Sorrell, president, Paul Quinn CollegeMichael Sorrell, president of Dallas’ Paul Quinn College, has brought new recognition, programs and funding to the 142-year-old historically black college. A former Dallas attorney and special assistant to President Bill Clinton’s executive staff, Sorrell and the college have received awards including the 2012 Historically Black College and Universities Male President of the Year, 2012 Top Liberal Arts HBCUs in America and 2013 HBCU Best Business Program.

Even as Sorrell develops his vision for Paul Quinn, he continues his own education: He is an Ed.D. candidate in the University of Pennsylvania’s executive doctorate in higher education management program.

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children logo• The Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas developed the first definition of dyslexia in 1968. Waites had established in 1965 one of the first programs in the world to identify and treat children with learning disorders, particularly dyslexia. Since then, the center’s team has demonstrated that, through research, evaluation and treatment, children with dyslexia can learn to read and be successful despite their learning differences.

The Dyslexia Training Program, a two-year intervention program, was developed at the Waites Center and is used throughout the United States. Medical Director Jeffrey Black and Administrative Director Gladys Kolenovsky lead the Waites Center, which provides diagnostic evaluations and recommendations for hundreds of children with learning disorders each year. The center also provides training for teachers and learning therapists and sponsors research on the causes and treatment of dyslexia.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America logoBig Brothers, Big Sisters of America was created in 1904 to bring role models into the lives of at-risk children. Today the mentoring program serves 300,000 children in the United States and 12 countries, providing and monitoring one-to-one volunteer mentors who develop positive relationships with children ages 6 to 18. Big Brothers, Big Sisters also sponsors African American, Native American and Hispanic mentoring programs in addition to programs for children of military parents and children of incarcerated parents.

Research shows that children in the program get along better with their families and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Participation in Big Brothers, Big Sisters also has a measurable, positive effect on education. Research shows that 87 percent of children in the program maintained or improved in their educational expectations and 84 percent maintained or improved their grades. Participants are more likely to graduate from high school and reach a higher lever of education. Pam Iorio, CEO of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, accepted the award.

“This year’s awards show the power of individuals,” said David Chard, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean. “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. Their work exemplifies what all of us can do to elevate what’s important to the development of children and youth.”

The Luminary Award was created in 2009 by the Simmons School to honor individuals and organizations that have shown an extraordinary commitment to improving people’s lives through education. The award is given annually to a local, regional and national recipient.