Ex-W-S teacher, NCAE leader dies

Ex-W-S teacher, NCAE leader dies
September 15
08:00 2016

Rodney Ellis’ mission was to inspire young boys of color



Last weekend, educators and others across the state were shocked and saddened when reports surfaced that a former president of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE ) who had taught in Winston-Salem died Saturday morning. Rodney Ellis was 49.

Ellis, a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, began his teaching career at Atkins Middle School (now Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy) as an eighth-grade language arts teacher in 1999. After serving as the president of the Forsyth County Association of Educators (FCAE), Ellis was elected NCAE vice president in 2010, where he served for two years before he was elected president in 2012.

A wake will be held for Ellis on Friday, Sept. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Great Commission Community Church, 3733 Ogburn Ave. in Winston-Salem. His funeral will be Saturday, Sept. 17, at 1 p.m. at St. Peter’s World Outreach Center, 3683 Old Lexington Road in Winston-Salem. Russell Funeral Home is in charge.

Although he had left the classroom setting, Ellis’ mission in life was to inspire children from low income households, especially African-American males, to always do their best and strive for greatness.

During an event hosted by the local Initiative for African American Males (IAAM) earlier this summer, Ellis said, “Helping improve the lives of African-American males has always been important to me.

“It takes a full commitment from the entire community,” he continued. “To be successful students need the support of parents, educators, elected officials, and other stakeholders in the community as well.”

Those who knew him well said as a teacher and as president of the FCAE, and NCAE, Ellis always put children first. During an interview with WXII-12 News, current FCAE president Ronda Mays said Ellis touched a lot of people.

“The biggest thing that I loved about Rodney is it wasn’t about him,” said Mays. “It was about the children and the educators; he didn’t do any of this for himself.”

In a social media post on Saturday morning, NCAE president Mark Jewell said, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and immediate past president Rodney Ellis. He committed his life to his family and to making public schools better for every child. We will miss his tremendous leadership at NCAE, and his tenacious commitment to public education.”

A former student in Ellis’ eighth-grade class at Atkins, Sean Jackson, said, Ellis was the best teacher he ever had. Jackson noted, “He always told us that we could do anything we put our minds too.

“It’s hard to believe that he is really gone. He will truly be missed.”

Ellis is survived by his wife Lisa, and four children. The family says a memorial fund is being set up to honor Ellis in lieu of flowers and that more information will be forthcoming.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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