The Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) recently presented Ayana Askew, a 2022 graduate of Virginia’s Norfolk Public Schools, with the Dr. Michael Casserly Legacy Scholarship for Educational Courage and Justice. Sponsored by Curriculum Associates, the $10,000 college scholarship will be used by Askew to pursue a degree in English at Spelman College in Atlanta.
The scholarship is part of the Dr. Michael Casserly Legacy Award for Educational Courage and Justice, named after the Council’s former executive director. The annual award, now in its second year, is presented to a person who has made outstanding contributions in the field of Grades K–12 urban education by taking a courageous and passionate stance on the issue of educational justice and equity. This year’s awardee was Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), who currently serves as the chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, where he works to advance an agenda that improves equity and quality in education.
Askew was the valedictorian of her 2022 senior class at Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Va., graduating with a 4.48 grade-point average. A skilled poet, she has written and performed original poems on police brutality and Juneteenth on local, national, and international stages and was one of only 20 students nationwide to receive a U.S. Presidential Scholar Award in the arts. She has also created several documentaries advocating for safe public school facilities for students, receiving honorable mentions in CSPAN’s National StudentCam Documentary Contest. Askew’s life goal is to continue to use her platform and voice to touch people’s hearts, advocate for justice, and change the world.
“I am pleased to have chosen Ayana Askew as this year’s recipient of a scholarship named in my honor,” said Casserly. “She is extremely deserving of this scholarship and is a prime example of the wonderful graduates our nation’s urban public schools produce. As she pursues a degree in English, I know she has a bright future ahead of her and I thank Curriculum Associates for their generous support.”
The CGCS is the only national organization exclusively representing the needs of urban public schools. Composed of 77 large-city school districts, its mission is to promote the cause of urban schools and to advocate on behalf of inner-city students through legislation, research, and media relations. The organization also provides a network for school districts sharing common problems to exchange information and collectively address new challenges as they emerge in order to deliver the best possible education for urban youth.
“Through our partnership with the Council of the Great City Schools, we are proud to once again sponsor the Dr. Michael Casserly Legacy Scholarship for Educational Courage and Justice and recognize a standout rising college student,” said Woody Paik, executive vice president of Curriculum Associates. “Ayana demonstrates a remarkable commitment to her studies, her advocacy work, and her community. We honor her accomplishments and wish her all the best as she advances her education journey.”