GREENSBORO — They were among the youngest voices in the room of educators and community leaders on Friday, but possibly the most powerful.

“Failure is my friend, it teaches me to try again,” recited William Manneh, an Andrews High School student, from a poem he wrote as part of the Guilford Education Alliance’s 2015 Education Summit.

On Friday, the lesson of the day was grit and class was in session.

A steady stream of voices followed Manneh about the “grit” that takes place every day in Guilford County Schools.

“Our public schools are doing awesome things every day against unbelievable odds,” said Mona Edwards of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and a member of the alliance’s board of directors.

The Guilford Education Alliance is a nonprofit whose mission is to help students in ways the school system can’t.

During Friday’s early morning breakfast gathering, the group also announced its educators of the year. Lavasia Taylor, a math teacher at High Point’s Andrews High School, was named Rookie Teacher of the Year.

The Mentor Teacher of the Year went to Charlene Marsh, a science teacher at High Point Central.

“I want to be able to guide them, to support them, but at the same time, enable them to grow so they will be the kind of teacher that every child needs and deserves,” Marsh said.

The group also awarded its signature award, the 2015 Margaret Bourdeaux Arbuckle Award honoring a “passionate and tireless” advocate for children and education, to Christine Greene.

Greene was a classroom teacher and a high school counselor for decades. Last fall, she co-chaired the county-wide sales tax referendum to benefit schools.

Patrice Faison, the principal at Page High School and the 2012 North Carolina Principal of the Year, reminded audience members how grit can change a school. She recalled how her former school, Oak Hill Elementary in High Point, overcame being a low-performing school.

“We have to be willing to fail, to be wrong, to start over again,” Faison said.

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