Diantha McKeel is proud to help sponsor the third annual John E. Baker Legacy Dinner, which helps to raise money to support to young African-American professionals who decide to become teachers in the Charlottesville City and Albemarle County school divisions. This year’s dinner will be held on Friday evening, October 11, at Farmington Country Club from 6 until 9 p.m. (Tickets are still available and may be purchased online at this link, or by calling the African-American Teaching Fellows’ office at 434-220-4264.)
“I have the deepest respect for John Baker’s accomplishments. I’m honored to have served alongside him on the the Albemarle County School Board.” said McKeel. “By helping to sponsor this fundraiser in his memory, I hope to keep his spirit alive.” John E. Baker was the first African-American elected to the Albemarle County School Board. He and Diantha McKeel served together on the Albemarle County School Board.
The dinner is the signature event of the African-American Teaching Fellows (AATF), an organization established in 2004 to encourage African-American college students to become teacher leaders. There are 13 fellows currently teaching in the city and county public school divisions and another 10 fellows who have committed to teach in local schools and are now completing their college education.
“The support and generosity we receive from local businesses and organizations and from so many community leaders make this progress possible,” said Scott Guggenheimer, executive director of the African-American Teaching Fellows. “These investments are generating an extraordinary return. Charlottesville City and Albemarle County are recruiting unusually talented young educators who are having a positive influence in the classroom and who more closely reflect the diversity of the students they serve.”
The keynote speaker for this year’s dinner is Maurice Jones, the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As HUD’s second most senior executive, Jones manages daily operations, including the annual budget and nearly 9,000 employees. He has deep Virginia roots, formerly having served as Commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Social Services, deputy chief of staff to Governor Mark Warner, and president and publisher of Virginia’s largest newspaper, the Virginian-Pilot.
The dinner will recognize the contributions of two community leaders, Eugene Williams and Juandiego Wade. Williams is receiving the John E. Baker Legacy Award for lifetime service to the community. Long an influential advocate of equal education opportunities, Williams was a driving force behind successful efforts that resulted in the integration of local schools in 1959. Wade, currently the chair of the Charlottesville City School Board, is receiving the Commitment to Education Award. Wade has served on the school board since 2006 and is a long-time volunteer and mentor to students.
The African-American Teaching Fellows is a 501(c) (3) organization that recruits teaching candidates from throughout Virginia. Fellows who agree to teach in either Charlottesville City or Albemarle County schools receive a $5,000 scholarship per year. The organization also supports fellows through a series of professional and leadership development programs throughout the year, including its Teacher-Leader Institute each summer.
In a joint resolution by the Virginia House of Delegates, it was noted that Baker “gave his time and immense talents to numerous civic organizations,” including the Charlottesville/Albemarle Community Foundation Advisory Committee, the Red Cross, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Charlottesville/Albemarle Youth Orchestra, and the African-American Teaching Fellows. The county’s Baker-Butler Elementary School is named in his honor.
Tickets for the Baker Legacy Dinner are $100 each and can be purchased on line at this site, or by calling the African-American Teaching Fellows’ office at 434-220-4264. The evening begins with a cocktail reception at the Farmington County Club at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 11, followed by a sit-down dinner and program at 7 p.m.