Hazelwood School District to honor Chairperson for the Spanish Lake Community Development Corporation with the Superintendent’s Hall of Fame Award
By Charlotte Beard
On Dec. 14, the Hazelwood School District (HSD) will induct nine honorees into its HSD Hall of Fame at their sold-out 70th Anniversary Hall of Fame Awards Gala and Dance at the Renaissance Hotel. HSD shares that since the founding of the school district on Dec. 10, 1949, countless individuals and organizations have contributed to the district’s success. Among those contributors is one of this year’s inductees – Lottie Wade, Chairperson for the Spanish Lake Community Development Corporation. She will be honored with the Superintendent’s Hall of Fame Award.
The other inductees for designated honors at HSD’s celebration include: Carey Davis – Head Football Coach, Class of 1999 and member of Super Bowl XLIII winning Pittsburgh Steelers; 1995 Hazelwood East High Football Team for the many players that have gone on to play for NFL teams and still contribute to the success of current students and community; Senator Brian Williams – Class of 2001 and Missouri State Senate District 14; Charles “Ed” Brown and Dan Brown, Class of 1977 and 1980, and founders of Brown & Brown, Attorneys at Law; Dr. Chris (Wright) Nicastro – former HSD superintendent and Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner; Ann Gibbons – former HSD Board of Education Director and 40-year volunteer in the district; Hazelwood PTA Council for raising nearly $3.5 million in scholarships impacting more than 3,500 students; and Ameren for its long history of grant dollars for district programs, community partnership, scholarships, and offering utility assistance for district families in need.
The Superintendent’s Hall of Fame Award, selected by Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart, recognizes a current HSD volunteer or ambassador who supports the academic mission of HSD and has made positive contributions to the education of its students.
Wade shared, “Dr. Collins-Hart has been a joy to work with – she’s been open, she’s reached out to the community. She listened. I value the innovative things that she is doing now with curriculum. There are some exciting things going on in Hazelwood.”
When asked what it means to receive this honor, Wade stated, “My focus has always been children and family, whether I was working with the Division of Family Services, in a classroom in Mississippi as a teacher, or when I went to the United Way. All of those (ventures) were focused on children, education and child safety. All that gets rolled into where I see myself now. If we don’t protect and educate our children, we have no future because they have no future.”
Wade, who also serves on the Board of Directors for the Spanish Lake Community Association, has a long history in advocating for children. She came to St. Louis from Mississippi in the early 1960s and began working for the Division of Family Services (DFS) among the urban housing projects.
“I was working in Pruitt-Igoe and Vaughn when the transition was taking place,” she shared.
While working with DFS for 22 years, Wade was a Case Worker and moved up to training and staff development. Later she received her master’s degree in Social Work from Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and moved up the ranks as a trainer for child welfare before moving on to manager for the division. Her last two roles were Director for St. Louis City and Area Director for St. Louis County. When she left DFS she transitioned into a role for planning and community initiatives with United Way of Greater St. Louis.
Wade stated that her first encounter with the Hazelwood School District was as an “active parent” when her daughter was enrolled in the school district during her years of schooling. She shared how through a series of events her association with and advocacy for HSD resulted from community involvement. Approximately 13 years ago when Wade retired from United Way as Senior Vice President she moved to Spanish Lake. The Spanish Lake community conducted a youth needs assessment which resulted in the creation of a task force, which included Wade, to address issues identified by the assessment.
The Hazelwood School District provided meeting space for the task force which was made up of various organizations in the community. Wade shared that some of the district’s staff also became involved in the initiative for Spanish Lakes’ youth and education. With the growth of the partnership between the school district and Spanish Lake came Spanish Lakes’ Youth and Family Resource which began approximately 11 years ago and was hosted by the district. Wade shared that Hazelwood was also a strong partner when Spanish Lake began its initiative for youth violence prevention; the district hosted the forums and provided staff.
Approximately four years ago, Wade became a volunteer for Ready Readers, an organization that assigns trained volunteers to classrooms in low-income communities to read aloud to preschoolers and aid in building literacy skills in preparation for kindergarten. She was assigned to the Hazelwood School District.
“(I) started reading to preschoolers at Larimore Elementary School,” stated Wade. “That was just such a great experience. The need is so great for that. This year I am reading to preschoolers at Twillman Elementary School.”
In addition to Wade’s volunteering in the classroom, she has participated in various Hazelwood community groups for the district’s initiatives. Her involvement with these groups has equipped her to be a spokesperson for the district.
“I take advantage of every opportunity to talk about the positives that are going on in Hazelwood School District.”
Wade speaks with pride about the growth, changes and additions she has seen in the district such as the implementation of its thematic school cultures – Hazelwood Opportunity Center and Hazelwood East Middle School – 8th Grade Center, and its school-based health center.
Wade shared that in her final phase of working in the community she is trying to live out the quote that has a couple different variations.
One variation by Shirley Chisholm states, “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” Marian Wright Edelman, activist for children’s rights states, “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.” Wade stated that she believes the best way to serve is by serving the needs of children, and organizations and systems that support their healthy development.
“The school district is an intricate part of the well-being of our community and we owe them our service,” Wade stated.
CUTLINE: Photo courtesy Hazelwood School District Lottie Wade, Chairperson for the Spanish Lake Community Development Corporation, will be honored with the Superintendent’s Hall of Fame Award.