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Foursome ‘continue the dream’

AHOSKIE – Ahoskie Elementary School honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on February 23 with their “Continuing the Dream” program.

The program included Paulette Roberson, Hertford County Middle School Teacher of the Year, serving as Mistress of Ceremony and musical numbers from Hertford County High School, Bearfield Elementary School and Riverview Elementary School.

Reverend Robert Richardson, pastor of the 1st Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, spoke at the annual ceremony and four outstanding individuals were honored and presented with commemorative plaques during the ceremony for their lifetime of service.

The honorees included Gary Lewter, a native of Hertford County and the owner of Lewter Professional Services. Lewter is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in both in North Carolina and Virginia and manages the Gilliam Funeral Home.

Mr. Lewter was described as a giving man who helps others and has devoted time and energy into organizations that benefit the children of Hertford County. While serving Hertford County Middle School, Lewter implemented a fund raising project that kept the Community and Parent Involvement Center open when grant money was no longer available.

After 9-11, he worked in New York helping with the New York Medical Examiners Office. Lewter is also involved in Relay for Life, the Atlantic District Fair, the Hertford County Planning and Zoning Board, the Ahoskie Men’s Ministry and Jerusalem Lodge 96.

Virginia Ely Lawrence of Murfreesboro was another honoree. Lawrence attended Waters Training School in Winton and graduated from North Carolina Central University and did graduate work at Queens College, Rutgers University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Following her graduation from North Carolina Central, Lawrence returned to Hertford County and began a 33 year career as a teacher and librarian. Ely was the first African American teacher to desegregate Hertford County Public Schools, enduring many obstacles along the way.

Lawrence made certain the libraries at Riverview and the old Murfreesboro High School were accredited. She established library clubs and encouraged students who attended meetings to compete for offices at the state level. She also helped design the library at Hertford County Middle School.

Lawrence remains involved in the National Education Association, NC Retired Teachers, the American Library Association, American Red Cross, Cancer Society, and the North Carolina Central Alumni Association, which presented her with the Eagles Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993.

Lawrence continues to touch students’ lives and inspire them to further their education in the area of library science.

Arthur Brown, a native of Bertie County and Ahoskie High School graduate, received his BA from Appalachian State University. Brown did graduate work at Western Carolina University and East Carolina University before receiving his doctorate from Nova University. He continued his education at Hampton University, Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and the University of Maryland.

Brown began his career as a special education teacher in Virginia. He returned to North Carolina as a speech and language teacher and to Hertford County as Director of the exceptional children’s program Brown was later named the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and then Associate Superintendent.

Brown retired from Hertford County Schools in 1993, but continues to work in education as a speech and language teacher in Chesapeake, Va. and served as the interim superintendent for that district when the position was temporarily vacant.

Richard Edwin Gasden, a native New Yorker, attended schools in Hertford County and graduated from C.S. Brown High School. Gasden received his BS degree from North Carolina Central University and received a certificate of Graduate Study in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East Carolina University. He earned his Masters of Education degree from Tuskegee Institute.

Gasden was a lifetime educator in the Hertford County Public Schools System. He served as principal of Murfreesboro High School and became the first African American to serve as principal during the integration of Hertford County Schools. Gasden instituted a high level of professionalism and expectations and as a result of his “no nonsense” attitude and deep commitment to high standards; he was recognized by staff, students and the community as the “Best Principal” to ever hold the position.

As a fair and just man, Gasden played a vital role in bridging the gap between blacks and whites during a critical time in Hertford County.

Gasden holds memberships in Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., the NAACP, the North Carolina Association of Educators and the National Education Association.