• By American staff Sep 28, 2016

    The 2016 Salute to Excellence awardees include teachers of kindergarten and middle school English, a mental health therapist, principals of elementary and high schools, a dean of students at a charter school, and a professor and site coordinator at universities. They will be honored on Saturday, October 1 at the St. Louis American Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education.

    After 15 years teaching kindergarten at Bermuda Elementary School, Kimberly Berry continues to stand out as a dedicated educator who is vested in her community.  As a mentor and running coach to young girls, her work empowers students to stay strong and reach for their goals. Along the way, Berry holds herself to the same standard – she will run the Chicago Marathon in October – achieving her own longtime goal, one mile at a time.

    Sarah Briscoe has worked at virtually every level of the education spectrum. The desire to have a more hands-on approach with teachers, students and the community has afforded Briscoe the opportunity to serve as principal of one of Saint Louis Public Schools’ most successful elementary-level institutions. Briscoe’s formula for success at Bryan Hill Elementary School combines motivation, inspiration and innovation to ensure each student is equipped with the necessary skills to be college or career ready.

    As a recruiter and dean of students at KIPP Triumph Academy, Cori Cloyd’s motto includes a personal commitment to do “whatever it takes” to ensure his students’ success.  A product of Saint Louis Public Schools, Cloyd’s work as a mentor and educator inspires students to make college their goal, starting as early as the fifth grade. And his work with youth is encouraging a new generation of young professionals to give back to their communities.

    Kathleen Foster, an English teacher and English Language Arts coach at Jennings Junior High school, has been teaching for over 22 years. Teaching is her passion that almost went unfulfilled. The path to her teaching career wasn’t as clear in the beginning but it was, as she describes it, divinely ordained.  Through multiple careers and degrees she found herself never being quite fulfilled or satisfied. Until the day she stepped into a classroom and knew, even through a tumultuous first year, that she never wanted to leave or give up.

    Stacy Gee Hollins’ entire professional career has been punctuated by love of technology, education and a desire to help others. Hollins joined the faculty at Maryville University this fall as an associate professor in information systems. She began teaching inadvertently while working as an administrative assistant for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 1990.

    Years ago, Kacy Seals remembers an acquaintance laughed at her when she said she wanted to be the principal of her alma mater, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. Seals’ dream became reality in August 2015. It may not have happened if Seals had stayed on course in a professional career that began in the business sector. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration, Seals found her true calling while volunteering for an at-risk group of young people at Roosevelt High School.

    Psychologist Gladys A. Smith is a mental health therapist and consultant to students, staff and faculty at Webster University. She is a campus champion of education to prevent sexual assault, and she trains staff and peer educators on sexual harassment, substance abuse and health education. She supervises licensed professional counselors and addictions counselors. Smith is also a yoga instructor and teaches a weekly free yoga class on campus. The recent U.S. Navy Reserve retiree became interested in trauma care while serving as a medic in the military.

    Cynthia Warren is an extended site coordinator at Lindenwood University. Warren has been an educator for 31-plus years, and as a Christian, religion plays major role in how she facilities her everyday life. She has been instrumental as a school counselor, principal, and mentor. Warren grew up in St. Louis and has a passion to educate the underprivileged but is prepared and experienced to educate individuals regardless of race, class, gender or religion.

    The 2016 Salute to Excellence in Education Gala will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, October 1, 2016 at the America's Center Ballroom, following a reception at 5 p.m. Tickets are on sale now. Individual tickets are $85 each/$850 table, and VIP/Corporate tickets are $1,500 table. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.stlamerican.com and click on Salute to Excellence, or call 314-533-8000.