Bryant wins prestigious Coca-Cola education award

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 2, 2002

As L. Dale Bryant sorted through testing materials for students at Selma High, she came across something of great significance but had the slightest idea what it was all about.

The red and white wooden plaque read: &uot;For your inspiring words of wisdom of encouragement, your relentless efforts to help me succeed, your guidance as I pursued my dreams and for helping me to see past tomorrow, I give you the accolades that you deserve, and nominate you as my Educator of Distinction.&uot;

The words of

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Benjamin E. Obomanu, a 2002 graduate of the high school, touched her heart, just as she has touched so many during her 28-year-run in the Selma City School System.

Each year, 50 students throughout the nation are chosen to receive a $20,000 scholarship for college from Coca-Cola, which Obomanu received; and 200 students get a $4,000 scholarship award. All 250 students are then able to select one educator who has made a difference in their lives to be the recipient of the Joseph B. Whitehead Educator of Distinction Award, a nationally recognized honor.

Bryant, a Dallas County native and graduate of Keith High School, has channeled the love she has for children to help make a difference and enhance the overall educational experience for children in Selma City.

Bryant’s interest in what she calls the &uot;help profession&uot; began at Alabama A&M University where she received her bachelor’s degree in business. She then diverted, and went Alabama State University where got a master’s degree in education and became a certified education specialist in counseling and guidance.

The impact she has is anything but narrow, and students at Selma High agree.

Selma High Senior Robert Allen, Jr. said while making visible his pearly whites, &uot;Mrs. Bryant is a nice lady that helps everybody. She’s always dependable, not mean to anyone and is hardworking.&uot;

The most important advise she gives to students, &uot;Don’t let anyone tell you you cannot succeed because you can … you’ve got to keep moving until you find you niche,&uot; Bryant said.

As for how long Bryant, the widow of William T. Bryant, Jr., plans to stay in Selma in yet unknown. And since her son, William &uot;Tyrus&uot; Bryant III, has begun his first year teaching at Selma Middle CHAT Academy, she says, it might be longer than expected.

Selma High Media Specialist Nancy Sewell said of Bryant’s award, &uot;It’s truly amazing and a great honor, a signal honor, to be nominated by someone, especially an outstanding student. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.&uot;

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program, open to all high school seniors in the United States, was created in 1986 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola scholars come from all 50 states and more than one-third are minorities. The Education of Distinction awards is on opportunity for scholarship recipients to show appreciation for the people who had a impact in their lives.

Bryant was one of 250 national Education of Distinction award winners.