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On Thursday, Jan. 23, West Chester University and the WCU Frederick Douglass Society will host the 21st Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Brunch. The event commemorates the civil rights and humanistic achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and launches a day of service-themed activities for the campus community.
The University and Douglass Society also annually take the day to recognize individuals who exemplify King’s ideals and values. This year, there are two Drum Major for Justice honorees.
Gregory G. Shannon is a lifetime educator, having served 26 years both as a classroom teacher and as an administrator. He rose through various leadership positions at the School District of Philadelphia and is now superintendent for the Chester Upland School District. Ellen D. (Walton) Flamer is also a role model and leader in the field of education. Now volunteering during her retirement, she spent most of her career in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, N.C. Their full biographies appear below the schedule for the day.
Shannon and Flamer will be honored during the brunch, which takes place Thursday, Jan. 23, at 10 a.m. in Sykes Student Union Ballrooms. Tickets are $35 each ($280 table of 8) and are available through the SSI Ticket Office on the lower level of Sykes.The following activities are also scheduled:
His West Chester degree is in business and he later earned his master’s degree in education at Cheyney University. Most recently, he attended Harvard University where he participated in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Leadership Institute for Superintendents.
Following a brief time in the corporate world, Shannon took a position with the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) as a lead trainer and facilitator with the original Student Assistance Program. He was invited to become part of Lehigh University’s Educational Leadership Principal intern program but in 1999, before completing the entire training, he was asked to become the principal of Benjamin Franklin Elementary School. The school had a history of challenges, low student morale and low parental involvement. As principal, he established a successful instructional program that exceeded PSSA averages; statistically improved teaching and learning opportunities for students and teachers; and developed an organizational design aligned with school safety and climate standards.
While at Benjamin Franklin, he earned the Keystone Award for Academic Excellence (2003–2004 and 2004–2005 academic years) and led the school in attaining Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) four consecutive years, exceeding state test score averages.
In 2005, he became the school district’s assistant superintendent of the Office of Transition and Alternative Education and in January 2006, was selected as the Regional Superintendent of the CEO Region, becoming the youngest regional superintendent in recent school district history. This specialized pilot region comprised 12 schools as part of the Turn Around Specialist Program, a collaboration between the school district and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business/Curry School of Education partnership. This national model of leadership in education aimed to move those schools out of corrective action within two years. Shannon was the lead liaison responsible for all 12 schools’ key performance indicators.
In July 2007, he became Regional Superintendent when the CEO Region was merged with the Restructured Schools Region to become the largest region in the School District of Philadelphia with 50 schools. In July 2008, Shannon served as the Regional Superintendent of the 25-school East Region.
In May 2013, Shannon was appointed superintendent for the Chester Upland School District. His leadership team has already implemented important steps in creating a school district where students will receive an excellent education in a safe, nurturing and academically oriented environment. Shannon’s mantra for the district is “The Child We Raise will lead the village.”
After earning a bachelor of science in education from West Chester, she earned both the master of Human Development and Learning (1982) and administrative certification/principal licensure from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (1989). She taught for a year in the School District of Philadelphia and spent the rest of her career in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) in Charlotte, N.C. After retiring in 2006, Flamer became an internship supervisor for student teachers at Wingate University Ballantyne Campus, Charlotte.
A multitude of people have benefitted from Flamer’s volunteer activities. With the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, she has done service work and Bible teachings in Jamaica; participated in the Hurricane Floyd flood relief project in Princeville, N.C. (1999); volunteered for Charlotte’s Battered Women’s Shelter and Homeless Men’s Shelter (2000–2005) and in “My Sister’s House” for women in transition (2008–2012); volunteered with “Friendship Trays” (2006–2008), helping to prepare and deliver daily meals for the elderly and handicapped; participated in the church’s prison ministry and the Angel Tree Ministry (2006–2010); been a host family for the church’s International Children’s Outreach Ministry (summers 1999–2002); and volunteered her professional expertise to administrators in several South African schools as a member of the 2005 ICOM Education Foreign Missions trip.
Flamer maintains membership in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Charlotte Alumnae Chapter (2000–present) and has been involved with voter registration and the social action committee. Since 2010, she has volunteered with the “Kids Voting Precinct,” in which, on election days, she teaches children about voting while they cast mock votes at real polling places.
She has served the sorority chapter as a board member (2006–2010), financial secretary (2006–2008), and Deltas of Charlotte Foundation Chair 2010–2012. As chair, she was the driving force behind the $750,000 capital campaign to build the Delta Center, which has become a hub of community activity.
She also has volunteered since 2006 as a board member for the State Employees Credit Union (N.C.).
In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), she taught for six years in elementary schools before becoming assistant principal for instruction at Windsor Park Elementary (1982–1990) and Hickory Grove Elementary (1990–1991), then principal of Piney Grove Elementary School (1991–2003). Her leadership and the achievements of her schools impressed the superintendent and he requested she be the first principal at a new CMS school: Endhaven Elementary School (2003–2006). While there, she was selected CMS Principal Mentor (2003–2005); CMS Principal Representative (2002); Wachovia Principal of the Year CMS Finalist (2001); and CMS East Area Principal of the Month (October 2000).