Bryant Teacher Recognized for Making a Difference in Mount Vernon

Bryant Teacher Recognized for Making a Difference in Mount Vernon

Florence “Pipi” Harrison was surprised to get this award from Rotary President Mike Jones.

Florence “Pipi” Harrison was surprised to get this award from Rotary President Mike Jones.

Being the Director of Student Services at an alternative high school in a low income area comes with its challenges so Florence “Pipi” Harrison met the challenges head on to make an impact in this area of Mount Vernon. Those efforts did not go unnoticed, so she was recently awarded the 2024 ‘You Make A Difference’ Award from the Mount Vernon Rotary Club.

“We made the presentation at Bryant in front of the faculty, she was so surprised,” said club member Helen Walutes.

Harrison gets involved with several of the charity efforts in the area such as the D.C. Diaper Bank, Project Opportunity at Bryant, Food for Neighbors and the coat drive in the winter. As part of the award she received, $1,000 will be donated to an organization of her choice, and she has opted to use it to “stock the Bryant food pantry,” she said. She even lines up the resources on an individual basis so when students graduate, they have the resources and guidance for the next step.

Bryant Principal Karen Hertel nominated Harrison with the Mount Vernon Rotary Club, noting her efforts that make a tangible difference in the lives of students and families. "She is a true champion for Bryant High School and a highly deserving recipient of the ‘You Make a Difference’ Award," Hertel wrote.

Bryant School

Bryant High School is named after William Cullen Bryant, a writer, poet and founder of the Republican party. In 1825, he went on to become the editor of the New York Evening Post. He was an abolitionist who was pro-immigration.

In 1956, the school was Groveton High School before it closed in 1976 and turned into Bryant Intermediate School when the county first had an intermediate school system. Bryant closed in 1985 and reopened in 1986 as the county's alternative education center. The common curriculum of math, English, social studies and P.E. varies a little at Bryant.

According to the description, “Bryant High School inspires and empowers a diverse student population to earn a high school diploma in a non-traditional setting.” This non-traditional setting has flexible scheduling around outside requirements, caters to different learning styles and offers vocational, technical and career training for those not in the regular high school path.

Bryant allows students to explore new education pathways and succeed through different learning styles, said Mount Vernon Supervisor Dan Storck (D), one of the forces behind the efforts at Bryant. "I have championed career and technical education and career development opportunities crucial to every student reaching their full potential. Going to Bryant graduations and hearing the powerful stories and journeys of Bryant students has been the highlight of graduation season for me for more than 20 years," Storck said.

Pregnancy is one of the challenges where Bryant helps out. They have “Project Opportunity” that supports pregnant and parenting students to get a high school diploma with greater individual attention and child development classes. They provide an opportunity for new parents to interact with existing community programs such as the health department, Department of Family Services and other sources of support. Project Opportunity is one of the programs on Harrison’s agenda.