Two Rock Island-Milan School District teachers were honored by Rock Island City Council as Citizens of the Year during the meeting on Monday, August 27.
Ridgewood Elementary teacher Alexis DeWilde and Thurgood Marshall Learning Center teacher Mary Kmoch both received awards in the Education category. Rock Island High School graduate Jada Veasey received the Citizen of the Year in the Youth category.
Alexis DeWilde has been with the Rock Island-Milan School District for 20 years. "Born and raised in Rock Island, Alexis knew at an early age that Rocky schools got a bad reputation from others. She also knew that many of her neighbors and friends didn’t have the family and life support she had. So after college graduation, with a teaching certificate in hand, she came back to Rock Island to teach with the goal to make a difference in the lives of others. Twenty years later, Alexis is still doing just that. She has taught in five elementary schools and currently teaches at Ridgewood Elementary School. Her passion is working with students, and creating an atmosphere where they can not only learn, but thrive. Meeting her students where they are, she inspires them to believe in themselves and go further than their imaginations. This fall, Alexis said goodbye to four of her former students who she stayed in touch with throughout their education at Rocky. All four are first in their families to go to college and attest that it would not have happened if it were not for Ms. DeWilde, supporting, pushing, and caring for them along the way."
Mary Kmoch is a staple in the Rock Island-Milan School District and a great example of a teacher going above and beyond for her students. "Ask anyone at Thurgood Marshall Learning Center to name a teacher who is a driving force of change and inspiration, Mary Knoch’s name appears first on the list every time. Mary is known to involve all of her students in community service projects. She believes that her students have a duty to contribute to society and to ensure this will happen throughout their life she brings her kids to the community and the community to her kids. Practicing what she preaches, after Mary’s children were grown and off to college, she moved from Geneseo to Rock Island because she wanted to live and be active in the community where her students lived. She is a member of the Rock Island NAACP, Black Hawk Reading Council, Community Caring Conference and the Rock Island Education Association. Mary’s passion for giving hope and a positive future for the at-risk youth is evident in her care, teaching and opportunities she creates each day for her students to thrive and lead."
Jada Veasey, a 2018 Rock Island High School graduate, was also recognized as Rock Island Youth Citizen of the Year for her advocacy work in starting the R.I.V.E.T.E.R.S. Her nomination reads:
"Jada, a recent graduate of Rock Island High School, was President during her senior year, a member of the National Honor Society, and the student member of the Rock Island-Milan school board for three years. Jada co-founded the Rock Island RIVETERS Group (Rock Island Voices Ensuring Their Equal Rights Are Secure). This advocacy group exposes young women to work in male-dominated fields. She also completed a year-long commitment of service activities as a debutante in the Quad City Negro Heritage Society Debutante Cotillion. Jada took many Advanced Placement and Honors classes, was an honor student for four years, and finished in the top ten of her graduating class. Jada was a member of the high school marching band, symphonic band, pit orchestra for school musicals and plays (and acted in them too), and a member of the Quad Cities Youth Symphony Orchestra. She earned her Certified Nursing Assistant certification during her senior year and will be attending Coe College in Cedar Rapids this fall. Jada believes Rock Island is a great community and wants to make it an ever better place to live and work."
They will be honored in the Rock Island Labor Day Parade on Monday, September 3. The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. by Washington Junior High School on 18th Avenue. The parade concludes at Rock Island High School.
Alexis DeWilde and Mayor Thoms
Mary Kmoch and Mayor Thoms