Palestine Magazine January 2019 - Page 40

Becky Rutledge Steadfast leadership at University Academy Becky Rutledge has led the University Academy (formerly Innovation Academy) as principal since it opened six years ago. In 2018, Rutledge displayed unusual integrity and grace, when leading staff and students through rough waters and community scrutiny. After rumors spread the Academy could close due to lack of adequate facilities, Rutledge represented the academy calmly, as 500 parents and community members joined her staff in a show of support. Through numerous meetings with parents, the community, and univer- sity officials, Rutledge tactfully represented the needs of students and faculty. Rutledge also juggles several projects behind the scenes. In 2018, she completed a doctorate in education from Texas A&M University in Com- merce, and led the Academy’s faculty in a monthly community service initiative. She is an avid traveler, leading students and parents on interna- tional excursions twice a year with Passports Educational Group Travel. In 2019, Rutledge looks forward to opening a new building for Universi- ty Academy, as well as the graduation of the Academy’s first senior class. Betty Nickerson Helping those who need it most Betty Nickerson, known to friends as “Miss Betty,” made an enormous difference in this community in 2018, especially for those who needed help most. For more than 30 years, the director of the Multicultural Edu- cation Center, 1402 West Oak St., has helped the people other churches and organizations don’t, or won’t. “We pick up the slack from other organizations, offering help to people when they can’t,” she said. Patient, kind, and generous, Miss Betty is approached by hundreds of needy people each year. Few are turned away. Miss Betty always man- ages to find a way to help. In 2018, the MCE provided food, housing, utilities, clothing, temporary shelter, and job application assistance to hundreds of people. Other MCE services include providing clothing for just-released in- mates, rent or utility payments for those in crisis, assistance in obtaining birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and other essential documents; pro- viding donated gifts for the center’s annual Christmas party, distributing food to needy families, and teaching free GED (graduate equivalency diploma) classes. To raise money for the center’s ministries, Miss Betty and her team of volunteers refurbish donated household items and clothing. MCE pools whatever resources are available. It also takes donations and contributions from Walmart and the United Way of East/Central Texas to help struggling people overcome whatever hardship or crisis they’re facing. Now 80, Miss Betty still works tirelessly to obtain resources for others. She worries, however, about the condition of the MEC building, which needs rehabilitation. It’s an essential asset to her mission of helping those in the community who need help most.