2017-08-11 / LifeStyles

Gaffney graduate awarded Mary Gaffney Knuckles Education Scholarship

Jada Monique Sarratt has been named recipient of the 2017 Mary Gaffney Knuckles Education Scholarship. The scholarship certificate was presented by Hyacinth Jones Phillips, granddaughter of Mary Gaffney Knuckles, during the Gaffney High School Awards Program.

Sarratt will be attending Winthrop University, majoring in school psychology because she indicated that, “teachers, counselors, and school psychologist provide students with encouragement that someone believes in them and plants positive seeds that enable children to learn and soar.”

Sarratt has been described by her teachers as an “incredibly motivated and conscientious student who is very intelligent and responsible and who loves to succeed,” completing her senior year with a 3.576-grade point average (GPA).

Sarratt has always aspired to be a teacher, noting that she values the footprints left on her heart by many of her former teacher that inspired her.

“Teachers help students learn and build stepping stones to having a successful life,” Sarratt said. “I want to be a shining light to others. Education and teaching is one of the most important and worthwhile professions one can have.”

Her extracurricular pursuits include being a Junior Ambassador, a four-year member of the Gaffney High Student Government, member of the Photography Club, Astra Club, the Child Nutrition Committee, Fit2gether CCSD, and the Student Improvement Council.

Loving to help others in her community, Sarratt has volunteered throughout her high school years at the Boys and Girls Club, Miracle Hill Ministries and with the Cherokee County Coalition each year during the MLK weekend.

She is the daughter of Ms. Tameka Whittenburg and granddaughter of ‘Mama’ Mary Elnora Littlejohn and Mr. and Mrs. Francis Whittenburg. She attends Concord Baptist Church

The Mary Gaffney Knuckles Education Scholarship is awarded annually to a deserving Blacksburg and/or Gaffney High School graduating senior who will enter college as a freshman and major and pursue a career in public education.

Mary Gaffney Knuckles was an educator who loved children and teaching. She always encouraged young people to pursue an education, study hard and never give up. Knuckles attended college in the 1920s and 1930s during hard times when her mother took in washing and ironing to make a living for the family. She always wanted to be a blessing to others.

Knuckles began her education by attending the three-room Shady Grove School. Unfortunately, grade levels stopped at the seventh grade, and buses were not provided to transport Negro students to Gaffney to attend the colored high school. Many students in rural Cherokee County were not able to complete their high school education because of this. But with “God’s intervention,” Knuckles always said, arrangements were made for her to live in Gaffney with cousins for the next four years where she “roomed and boarded.” She was then able to attend the Granard Colored High School.

In 1934, she graduated Valedictorian from the Granard Colored High School and went on to graduate from Friendship Junior College, a two-year institution in Rock Hill, S.C. in 1936. She later traveled to Benedict College during the summer months and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education in 1953.

Mary Gaffney Knuckles taught school in Cherokee County for 40 years, beginning her teaching career in two and three-room schoolhouses at the Concord Church School and Petty Town Schools. Having taught hundreds of students over the years, one of her greatest pleasures was to reminisce and speak of her former students and many days in the classroom trying to instill concepts, principles, and character. She retired in 1976.

On November 27, 2007, Mary Gaffney Knuckles went home to be with the Lord at the age of 96. Surely many of the lessons she taught and the examples she set will live on in the hearts and lives of many.

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