Graduate’s name: Shawneice White
Home city: Moss Point, Mississippi
Name of school or program: Moss Point High School
Degree or certificate earned: High school graduate
Why you’re honoring this graduate:
“There should be a double shout out for Shawneice White, graduate of Moss Point High School Class of 2015 and her grandparents Lynn and Allen Powell. Shawneice graduated second in her class, receiving many accolades for her academic achievements as well as her community involvement.
“Shawneice credits her school success to her grandparents, Rev. Allen and Lynn Powell. ‘They always want me to do better, so they make me strive for greatness,’ she said. ‘I’m a huge procrastinator, so they stay on me to make sure I get things done well.’
“The Powells are like many grandparents today, assuming a strong role in the education of their granddaughter. Unlike many grandparents, however, hundreds of students at Moss Point High School in Moss Point, Mississippi and children throughout the community consider Lynn and Allen Powell family, calling them Paw Paw and Nanna.
“The Powells spend many days walking the halls of Moss Point High School, monitoring students, encouraging and helping in any aspect they can. The couple have an ‘old school’ approach the students have come to respect.
“‘The boys have gotten to the point where when they see me coming, they’ll pull up their pants,’ the Rev. Allen Powell said. ‘Some students even come by to see us and give us progress reports.’
“‘I think once the other kids see the love and support I have, it makes them want to do better,’ Shawneice said. ‘It makes a huge difference. They always want to know where are Nanna and Paw Paw. I miss them!’
“Both Lynn and Allen are graduates of the Parents for Public Schools, a parent engagement program. ‘There are so many great resources out there today,” Rev. Allen Powell said.
“‘I tell people about Parents for Public Schools all the time, because the training I received gave me the tools I needed to know how to successfully maneuver in the schools. With technology the way it is today, too, you can check grades online and keep up with what’s going on even if you can’t visit the school as much as you would like.’
“He takes his involvement to the highest level. He is president of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), a member of the Moss Point School District P16 Council, Policy Council with Jackson County Civic Action and Parents for Public Schools. He is also the pastor of The Church of Living God (C.W.F.S.) Temple # 297 in Moss Point.
“He says education is everybody’s business, because it affects every aspect of our communities. Everyone should be involved in some way, especially parents.
“That encouragement and involvement has paid off. Shawneice is preparing to attend Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky next fall. She also hopes to pursue a master’s degree in athletic training and work for a college or professional football team.
“She says her grandparents’ involvement in her education and life in general has made all the difference. Meanwhile, even though their granddaughter is moving to another phase of her life, the Powells plan to continue to be involved in the local school system.
“‘I have no plans of slowing down. Sometimes, I don’t feel my best, but I still carry on,’ said Rev. Allen Powell.
“Because we know that educational success is a team (and family) we want to shout out loud and clear: ‘Congratulations Shawneice for your hard work and diligence! Congratulations Lynn and Reverend Powell for making a difference in the lives of young people!'”
Honored by: Nita Rudy of Parents for Public Schools. The organization, which has its main office in Jackson, Mississippi, works to strengthen public schools.