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NEWS RELEASES 2001-02 :: FEBRUARY 7, 2002


Michael Estep Jr., an assistant Chief of Police, and Wendy Ivy Wilson, a chemical engineer pursuing a doctoral degree in pharmaceutical sciences, were honored in January at the National Title I Conference held in Tampa, Fla. Estep, a 1987 graduate of Avery High School (Avery County Schools) and Wilson, a 1995 graduate of Southeast Halifax High (Halifax County Schools), were recognized for their accomplishments along with 46 other individuals. These accomplishments are featured in a national booklet published by the National Association of State Title I Directors, Title I: A Program for Life, the 2002 Distinguished Graduates.

Title I, which began in 1965, is the largest federal aid program in K-12 education. The national program dedicates teachers and resources to help disadvantaged children overcome educational obstacles and achieve. In North Carolina, $172 million is spent on the program, serving approximately 250,000 students. Nationally, approximately 150 million children have been served by the Title I program since it began. Two distinguished Title I graduates from each state are recognized annually.

Distinguished graduate Michael Estep Jr., credited his third grade Title I teacher for making a difference in his life by helping him feel comfortable with books and reading. "I considered myself a terrible reader and was embarrassed to read in front of my classmates. My teacher helped me acquire good reading skills and built up my confidence by giving me individual attention and support at a time I really needed it."

Today, Estep is an assistant Chief of Police. He initiated the Kids' Safety Programs providing instruction on gun safety awareness, stranger danger, home safety and seat belt safety. He has received a number of honors including being named North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission Officer of the Year in 2000 for excellence in crime prevention. He also received the Mayland Community College 2000 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Estep's message to young students today is to work hard and take advantage of every helpful opportunity that comes along. "Work on your reading skills because they will help you in whatever work you do for the rest of your life."

North Carolina's other distinguished Title I graduate, Wendy Ivy Wilson, encourages students to take advantage of the opportunities Title I offers and the dreams they can fulfill. Wilson credited Title I with providing her the support that nurtured her passion for science and education and, in the process, allowed her to fulfill her dreams. "Because of Title I, I was able to complete both undergraduate and graduate school, earning bachelor of science degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry and graduating with highest honors."

She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland-Baltimore in the department of pharmaceutical sciences. She plans to work on her MBA and possibly one day pursue patent law.

For more information on the Title I program in North Carolina, please contact Bill McGrady, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 919.807.3957.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.