Lorenda Cheeks' work to improve educational opportunities for Jackson Public Schools students is receiving national attention.
Jackson native Anton Vincent, vice president of General Mills' Baking Products Division, will honor Cheeks Wednesday with the Community Champion award through General Mills' Feeding Dreams Program.
A Jackson native, Cheeks is the new principal of Oak Forest Elementary School. In her free time she is a Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi troop leader. Cheeks is also the founder of the program "It's Hip to Be Fit," a health and fitness program for young girls that she formed with the Girls Scouts.
The Feeding Dreams program recognizes African American community members in several states who are working to improve the well being of others. Cheeks applied for the contest earlier this year after a parent urged her to do so. She is also a finalist for the program's 2010 Grand Champion award, which will be announced in the fall. The public can vote for Grand Champion winner at the contests' website.
"Lorenda ... has made extraordinary strides to improve the lives of so many of our young Jacksonians," Vincent said in a statement. "Her civic leadership and volunteer work--combined with a caring heart--have been instrumental in giving hundreds of at-risk youth opportunities to grow, discover their natural talent and make meaningful contributions to broader society."
Cheeks, 38, is a graduate of Lanier High School. She earned her bachelor's degree in arts and elementary education from Tougaloo College in 1996, and her master's and specialist degree in school administration from Mississippi College. She is currently working on her doctorate in school administration from Delta State University.
Prior to her new position, Cheeks served as assistant principal at Lake Elementary School. She says she is looking forward to working with the Oak Forest community.
"We want to have strong partnerships with the community," she says. "It will take community to embrace the school and help us move where we need to move-- academically and preparing youth for the future."
Tougaloo in the house! Congrats Lorenda!
The beautiful photo says a thousand words. Keep up the good word. Congrads.