Federick Ingram knows how important education can be in planning your future. He has to look no further than his rough Overtown neighborhood, where he often sought out his high school band director to help him realize his potential.
His band practice paid off as he went on to become a music teacher at Booker T. Washington and Miami Carol City high schools.
“I have seen some of the worst experiences that Miami has to offer, but I have also seen the good efforts,” said Ingram, now president of the United Teachers of Dade. “For me to be on the other side as an educator, it means the world to me.”
And now the Camillus House, a homeless shelter in his neighborhood when he was growing up, has honored Ingram for dedicating himself to education.
At a reception Friday, The Camillus House recognized a total of six black educators, including Ingram, for their roles in shaping Miami’s black cultural history.
Ingram believes that in celebrating educators, the Camillus House is acknowledging the community’s accomplishments as well.
“Our educators are the grassroots,” Ingram said. “They are important to everything in our world. There would be no valid professions without them. Teachers make everything valuable and make every kid valuable.”
The organization also honored Marvin Dunn, Camillus House scholar-in-residence; U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson; Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Miami-Dade County Public School board member; Robert Morris, FIU Professor at Booker T. Washington High; and Rosetta Vickers, executive director of the Zeta Community Educational Center.
“The honorees are people that have been role models in their profession,” said Dr. Paul Ahr, president and CEO. “These are people that our black clientele can look towards because of their careers and the values they have developed.”
This is the first year the Camillus House has honored black educators, but the third time the organization has celebrated those in various fields that demonstrate a commitment to the values and legacy of the African-American community.
“We wanted to recognize the importance of these various black cultures in terms of their strength so that our clients can relate to the strengths in their own background,” said Dunn.
Wilson, an honoree, is very familiar with individuals helping the community advance, whether it is through education or public service.
A former elementary school principal, Wilson has always supported education, especially about different cultures and legacies, as being instrumental in shaping communities. While serving on the Miami-Dade County School board, Rep. Wilson launched a task force to incorporate African American history into the school curriculum.
A longtime volunteer of the Camillus House, she was introduced to the Overtown homeless shelter by her late father and brother.
“I feel very honored,” said Wilson. “And I feel that honored because someone is recognizing education, which is my passion.”
Education is of great importance to Wilson because she believes it is the essential factor in continuing to move the country forward.
She calls it the “the rock of our nation” and says it is the only stepping stone from poverty to the middle class. “It is so important that we make sure to give all of our children a great education,” she said.