Meet Wanda Shaw Wilson
Wanda Shaw Wilson (1937-2008) was known as a humanitarian, educator, and unwavering advocate for the education of children.
Wanda graduated from Bethune-Cookman College in 1960 with a Bachelor’s degree in physical education and early childhood development. She later earned a master’s degree in counseling from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
A trailblazer in education, Wanda became the first African-American to teach at a Highlands County, Florida school. She spent nearly three decades as an educator at local schools in the Avon Park, Florida and Sebring, Florida area. She was an influential voice in educational in that area during the period of desegregation in the late ‘60s and beyond.
Wanda promoted educational and economic hope, jobs, and opportunities to not only students, but also to families and the community at large. She regularly orchestrated the transportation of busloads of students from Highlands County to Florida universities. Even after her retirement from the Highlands County school system in 2004, she went on to establish the Faith Academy Daycare at the church she attended in order to help families in her communities. Her tireless contributions to local youth continued long after the school day ended. Her home was a haven to many young people, a sanctuary where they shared meals, activities and nurturing with her own children.
The Wanda and Janice Wilson Foundation was founded to continue Wanda’s legacy with today’s youth.
Meet Janice Marie Wilson
The late Janice Marie Jackson Wilson was 57 years old, living and tending to her family and students; she unfortunately departed this life on Friday, June 20, 2014. Janice Wilson was a wife, mother, teacher, and a devoted servant of the Lord. She was born in Daytona Beach and raised in Gifford, Florida before returning to Daytona Beach to attend the Great Bethune-Cookman University in 1976, graduating in class of 1980. She soon thereafter made Daytona Beach her permanent home, marrying Rufus L. Wilson, Sr. and raised her family.
Janice was an active member of New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church where she participated in the church’s Mass Choir. Amongst many of her passions, she also held the role as Basileus (president) of the Beta Iota Sigma Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated and a Life member of BCU National Alumni Association, where she served as Secretary. Always with a winning smile and a word of upliftment, there were many roles she filled with graceful ease.
Janice was an elite educator and highly revered amongst her peers and her students for more than 30 years, teaching at the following: Spruce Creek HS, Atlantic HS, Silver Sands MS, and most recently Mainland HS. She and her husband, Rufus L. Sr. tirelessly mentored teens and young adults at their kitchen table, molding them towards greater academic performance and more productive adult careers. Ms. Janice M. Wilson is survived by her devoted husband, Rufus Wilson, Sr., her two loving children, Serena Wilson and Rufus ‘Rudy’ Wilson, Jr. and her godson- Darryl “DJ’ Wingate, Jr.