As you were growing up, did you ever have a teacher reach out and tell you that you had the potential to do great things? Or have an adult provide guidance that was much needed in your life? If we could find all the people that were touched by the love and support of Jackie Whitfield during her years in the Cabarrus County Schools, we could easily fill this room. Retirement seemed to ignite this passion, and she was asked to lead a task force to determine how best to use the education wing here at All Saints.
After a series of conversations with different people in the community, Jackie learned that about four hundred children in Cabarrus County were identified as needing a boost up to get them kindergarten ready, but due to financial reasons, the children could not get that experience. At that point, Jackie made it her personal mission to do something about it because the smallest voices were not being heard.
Jackie led a team that developed collaboration between All Saints Episcopal Church, Cabarrus Partnership for Children, and Cabarrus County School Systems. She spent many hours in the education wing of the church meeting with inspectors, builders, and volunteers trying to get a school open in a short period of time. She spent many hours researching what was needed to get a school open, and even more hours making sure all the steps were taken. Within ten months, she succeeded with the opening of the Lockhart Early Learning Center.
That was not the end of the plan for Jackie however; she knew that many more children were waiting for the same opportunity. She pulled together a team to help create the All Saints’ Early Childhood Foundation. The focus of this non-profit organization is to raise public awareness of the poverty in the area and the impact it has on children’s education and the community as a whole. She hopes that the system created by this collaboration for the Lockhart Center can be duplicated at other churches and facilities throughout the community to enable all of the children who need pre-kindergarten educational experience, to get it. She has spoken to groups on a national level, knowing that this situation is not limited to just our community, but could be duplicated on a much larger scale.
Jackie Whitfield's long and dedicated career and retirement has shown her commitment to young children in Cabarrus County. She has worked tirelessly to pull together private and public groups of the community for the betterment of children as opposed to viewing each ones' resources as separate entities. Additionally, Jackie has never taken "no" for an answer and has always found a way to ensure that the impossible becomes possible.
It is, therefore, her unselfish, long term dedication to developing partnerships, advocating for, and supporting programs for young children that has earned her the Anne Laukaitis Champion for Children Award for 2015.
Congratulations Jackie and thank you for your impact on the Cabarrus County community.