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Meet the 2021 Barbara Rosser Hyde Alumni Leadership Award Honorees

The Barbara Rosser Hyde Alumni Leadership Award recognizes outstanding leaders making a difference in the Memphis community. 

March 4, 2021

The Barbara Rosser Hyde Alumni Leadership Awards recognize outstanding leadership among Teach For America alumni in Memphis. Each year honorees are chosen based on the award's stated values of impact, sustainability, courage, community and partnerships, and the pursuit of equity.

The 2021 Barbara Rosser Hyde Alumni Leadership Award Honorees will be celebrated at Reimagining Resilience: Honoring Alumni Impact in Memphis on Thursday, April 8.

The 2021 Honorees

Emily Abeles (Memphis '06)

Emily Abeles knows that teaching reading is really hard. Some experts even say it is rocket science. All students, but especially students who struggle, must have access to the time, teacher, and instruction they need to become confident decoders. In her work, Emily constantly tries to learn more about how words work so she can demystify words for students and help other teachers do the same. Since joining Teach For America in 2006, Emily has taught special education, English language arts, and reading intervention. She continues to teach because she strives to match her students’ perseverance and drive. Emily has seen that her students never stop trying so neither does she.

Meili Powell (Memphis '17)

Meili developed a passion for relationship-building and equity through working with students at the University of Washington, where she studied education and history. In Memphis, she taught first and third grade for three years at KIPP and Dunbar Elementary. Meili worked as a policy and advocacy fellow with Stand for Children, where she analyzed effective literacy initiatives, researched trauma-informed practices, and helped organize a “Fund Students First” campaign. Meili continued her advocacy by volunteering as a task force leader for Momentum Memphis, where she is currently collaborating with local organizations and elected officials to establish a “Youth Education Success” fund. As a program specialist at ALLMemphis, Meili now coaches teachers and supports schools with building their literacy capacity. Meili also serves as a community outreach and communications co-chair for The Collective Memphis board.

Craig Robinson (Memphis '14)

As an African American male teacher, Craig had tremendous success with students in the classroom. Now as an administrator, Craig is focused on recruiting more BIPOC men to teach in elementary school classrooms and supporting them through their development as educators. Through a partnership with Man Up Teach, Craig has already recruited new teachers and hopes to recruit more in the future.

Ashley Shores (Memphis '08)

Ashley was a member of the 2008 Teach For America corps and taught at Douglass High School. Since 2010 Ashely has been working at The Soulsville Charter School. During her tenure she served as an Advanced Placement science teacher, instructional coach and high school principal. She now serves as the managing school director and supports Soulsville's middle and high schools as well as their college office. In her 11 years with Soulsville, she is most proud of leading in a way that ensures school staff is reflecting on themselves, their practices, and always working to be a better place for students, staff, and families.

Britney Thornton (Memphis '14)

Britney Thornton is a native of Memphis by way of Orange Mound. She was a 2014 corps member and has taught for six years. Britney founded the non-profit JUICE Orange Mound in 2016. Britney has led the organization to unite over one hundred current residents to work for the betterment of Historic Orange Mound. Her theory of change calls for stronger neighborhoods to strengthen schools and she's starting with the oldest Black community in Memphis!