Leola Bullock Multicultural Award
About the Award: This award recognizes an LPS employee who has been an innovative leader and made a significant contribution to fostering understanding of our multi-cultural society through developing and implementing District programs.
Nomination By: Peter Ferguson
Nomination: I am pleased to nominate Mr. William (Bill) Bryant for the Dr. Leola Bullock Multicultural Award. I have had the privilege to work alongside Mr. Bryant in LPS for ten plus years and consider him a colleague, co-worker, and friend though I serve as his supervisor.
Since 2009 Bryant has served as the Student Advocate for the African American community. That job title, I would stress, limits his real role and impact not only on this district but the greater community. Many in this district and community have contributed to breathing life into equity for scholars, families, and staff. Still, more so than any person, Bryant lives and breathes this not only in his work but in life daily. He exemplifies what the award and Dr. Bullock are about; "an innovative leader who continually makes a significant contribution to fostering understanding of our multicultural society."
There are very few classrooms and administration who gives as much to others' details as he does. His willingness to guide and empower others is rarely seen in, out of the classroom, or in the community. Bryant has garnered the respect of his peers, families, classroom staff, and administrators alike.
Mr. Bryant would shy away from this recognition, but I would find it hard-pressed for any colleague who knows or has been touched by him to say he is not deserving as he said in a 2015 Journal Star article, his personal experiences fuel his life's work.
Bill knew my late mother as he was a custodian at the school she worked. Suffering from Alzheimer's, I recall taking the job at LPS. When I noted to her, a new colleague would be Mr. Bryant though her memory was fading, she lit up, indicating a collection of who he was.
Mr. Bryant’s ability to light up the room whether it's playing Motown to lighten the mood in the office, reciting one-liner, offering calming guidance, serving as an advocate for marginalized families, supporting scholars as they navigate the system, offering to sample or go first at a potluck or providing hope to scholars of all walks as he ventures the halls of the buildings he serves.
His skills do not end with his mere presence. Bryant helps those who may be challenged to understand and engage in discussion on equity, though necessary, should be short and long. I have seen him resolve conflicts and handle other difficult situations with remarkable patience and admirable tact. In the community, he is recognized as a pillar and goes out of his way to help people.
Bryant's mission, as was Dr. Bullocks, to see people succeed while empowering others to support diversity and inclusion by "standing up and speaking out."
"I've always felt inclined to help children and families because I know what it feels like," he said. "My favorite quote is, 'I don't give because I have a lot; I give because I know what it feels like to have nothing," states Bryant.
Bryant would not, as this nomination permits, put himself forward for recognition. His commitment and efforts go toward supporting scholars staying on track toward graduation, touching base with them in the hallways, holding them accountable, talking to their teachers, their parents, attending their sporting events at all levels, giving out of his pocket, and doing for the countless years "Summer School Slice." Affirming scholars who made strides in attendance, coursework, or behavior a slice of pizza on Fridays at summer school, and facilitation of a black male empowerment group at Lincoln High.
Resonating with me to this day was his response to an interview question about scholars at risk. His reply, "every scholar is at risk of you not giving them a chance." His own life experiences, commitment, and selfless investment in others have given him insight and help him relate to those students and their families, providing the greater community and those within the district to connect.
In a review of the various Foundation Outstanding Educator award, this in technicality is the only one Mr. Bryant can be nominated; however, he embodies and excels in the criteria many if not all of the 14 other honors to bestowed within the District. I believe these characteristics represent all that this recognition stands for, and I am pleased to nominate him to be recognized for this Dr. Leola Bullock Multicultural Educator Award.
Youth Development Coordinator
Lincoln Public Schools