Join us on November 2 for DreamWakers’ 2022 Celebration!  Learn more & purchase tickets.

Each year, DreamWakers honors members of our community who go above and beyond in their commitment to our mission to awaken students’ career dreams and aspirations. We are delighted to announce our four inspiring awardees of 2022, who have made an immeasurable impact on the lives of students and in learning communities across the United States. They are educators, professionals, and dreamers who are committed to helping students SEE what they can BE. 

DreamWakers invited each awardee to share their story with us in a Q+A interview. Check them out below, and please join us in congratulating this cohort of awardees on their well-deserved recognition via Instagram

2022 Educator of the Year: Ann Headrick
Academic Coach, Arkansas City Middle School, Kansas

Ann Headrick has been a pillar of the DreamWakers community for educators. Since May 2021, she has partnered with DreamWakers to host 24 flashchats, and has helped to expand DreamWakers’ reach throughout rural Kansas. DreamWakers is proud to present Ms. Headrick as Educator of the Year! 

Q: How did you initially get involved with DreamWakers? What motivated or inspired you to do so? 

A: I was introduced to DreamWakers as my district’s summer school coordinator.  DreamWakers was suggested to me by our previous curriculum director who had received information about DreamWakers through Greenbush, a professional development consortium our district belongs to. I quickly googled DreamWakers and became excited about the possibilities for our rural community. 

Q: What has your experience been like partnering with DreamWakers?  What impact has it had on your life? 

A: DreamWakers has given our teachers experts in all areas.  We were able to find professionals in careers that our students and staff have never heard of. For instance, one summer school session was on positivity in thoughts.  DreamWakers was able to pair a class with the Twitter Happiness Ambassador.  Our flashchats have included authors, park rangers, an expert on penguins, a repurposing expert for recycling, a poet, and a fiber artist among the many engaging speakers our district has hosted. Another benefit of using DreamWakers is the skills the students develop by asking questions of the DreamSpeaker With DreamWakers, students learn the importance of using their voice, and it’s even better when the DreamSpeaker has asked the student a question and hears the students respond.

Q: Do you have any standout memories or experiences with DreamWakers that you would like to share?

A: What makes DreamWakers special is the enthusiasm the kids have for the DreamSpeakers who appear on the screen. I just witnessed this enthusiasm last week with a 5th-grade class in our district. When the speaker, poet Roen Higgins, appeared on screen, the kids applauded and there was a buzz in the classroom.  Roen amazed the kids with her story, her passion for spoken word art, and her ability to genuinely connect with the students.  

This is the norm for DreamWakers: passionate people sharing potential with students.

2022 Speaker of the Year: Nerea Gibson 
Scientist, Astrazeneca and Founder & CEO, Aeren Waters, Washington, DC

Nerea Gibson is a first-generation scientist, an entrepreneur, a fashion designer, and a stellar DreamSpeaker. As the daughter of Caribbean immigrant parents who did not attend college, and a graduate of Penn State University and The Johns Hopkins University, Nerea has a career and life journey nothing short of inspiring to every student she encounters. A part of Nerea’s commitment to the DreamWakers community, she has hosted eight flashchats with DreamWakers in just over a year and consistently supports and represents DreamWakers at events and in any possible capacity. DreamWakers is proud to honor her as Speaker of the Year! 

Q: How did you initially get involved with DreamWakers? What motivated or inspired you to do so?

A: I received a LinkedIn message from a DreamWakers Program Associate introducing the DreamWakers organization and a forthcoming virtual speaking opportunity with an 8th-grade class. At the time, we were still in the early days of COVID, when in-person gatherings and meetings were restricted. I was more than happy to be involved since I was glad this organization maintained a vital connection with schools and students, amidst so much change.

Q: What has your experience been like partnering with DreamWakers? What impact has it had on your life?

A: Dreamwakers continual outreach is admirable and inspiring, so I’m more than happy to be a cheerleader for them among my network. I appreciate working with DreamWakers since it has brought me back to the classroom setting, as I used to volunteer in schools within my community for career day or other volunteer events. Their nationwide network has fostered unique opportunities to speak with students outside of my immediate community, who I otherwise may have never met.

Q: Do you have any standout memories or experiences you would like to share?

A: To be honest, I always feel like the flashchats aren’t long enough! The kids and teachers have great questions that lead into awesome conversations and talking points. But, if I had to pick a standout memory, there was one particular flashchat involving high school students who were on a fashion design curriculum track. I happened to mention the concept of an elevator pitch and an unusual way to create one. One student exclaimed how helpful that topic was, as it related to a current school project. My explanation helped her better understand how to tackle her assignment. It was very cool to get such immediate feedback from my talk.

2022 Volunteer of the Year: Barger Jeutter
CEO & Owner, Solution Consulting, North Carolina

Barger Jeutter is an active member of the DreamWakers Advisory Council (DWAC), a group of volunteer thought partners committed to improving and expanding the reach of DreamWakers. In addition to being a dedicated Advisor and DreamSpeaker, Barger organizes and runs an annual Turkey Trot to help raise funds to support DreamWakers, and has also previously hosted a professional development session for teachers, tapping into her own professional expertise. Notably, Barger’s unique ability to rally her community and passion to serve more students led her to forge a connection between DreamWakers and Warren County Schools in North Carolina, supporting students in the rural district to connect virtually with passionate, relatable role models. DreamWakers is proud to honor Barger as Volunteer of the Year!

Q: How did you initially get involved with DreamWakers?  What motivated or inspired you to do so?

A: I got involved with DreamWakers when it was in the thought stages. I met with [DreamWakers co-founder Annie Medaglia] at the University of Virginia Darden Business School one day and she shared [the co-founders’] ideas and dreams with me.  Their ideas were solid and inspiring to listen to, even in the initial stages of still addressing the unknown.  I was keenly engaged from that very first meeting and felt like they had a concept that would revolutionize opportunities to reach students, especially in underserved areas, in ways that would change their lives.  

The way that they have built DreamWakers from the ground up, with such a small team and yet such a wide reach, is magnificent. There are so many more opportunities to expand and to give students the chance to see all those things they can be, and do, with the confidence to know there are resources out there to help them. DreamWakers is  life-changing on so many fronts with so many people who are involved!

Q: What has your experience been like partnering with DreamWakers?  What impact has it had on your life?

A: Partnering with DreamWakers is terrific. They are always responsive in a professional, enthusiastic, and motivating way.  They engage, they reach out, they push when things need a push, they pull when they need creative suggestions from others, they get the job done, and they do it all well. 

DreamWakers is the most professional company I have dealt with — and as a management consultant over a 40+ year career, that is not something that I say lightly. I’m proud to be a small part of this very large-in-spirit-and-impact organization. 

The impact on my life? Just a feeling of extreme pride with [co-founders] Monica and Annie and how they’ve created this incredible organization that I can truly say is making a difference. I’m proud to be a small part of this very large in spirt and impact organization!

Q: Do you have any standout memories or experiences you would like to share?

A: I have a couple standout memories: First is the day we met with Warren County Schools, one of the most under-resourced school districts in the state of North Carolina, in the middle of an extremely depressed socioeconomic area. We got things rolling to get them up and running with DreamWakers! It was one of those ‘making a difference’ moments that you know will be a lot of work to get off the ground and keep running, and yet, the opportunities for the teachers and the students would be significant. 

My second standout memory is the on-site Strategy Summit that I attended in DC at the DreamWakers offices in Jan 2020. Being surrounded by such creativity, innovative ideas, and people who take action, was an inspiration and a lot of fun!

School of the Year: Calvin Coolidge High School Mass Media Academy
Zakiya Edens, Founding Director + Career and Technical Education School Leader and Administrator, Washington, DC

The Mass Media Academy at Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, DC is an open enrollment, four-year career education program that provides students with rigorous multimedia coursework in addition to college and career exposure, tailored academic support, and mentorship opportunities.  Educators and students at the Academy have been wonderful partners of DreamWakers since December 2019, always going above and beyond for each flashchat! Together, we have hosted 24 flashchats, including 12 flashchats in 2022! DreamWakers is honored to present Coolidge Mass Media Academy as School of the Year!

Q: How did you initially get involved with DreamWakers?  What motivated or inspired you to do so?

A: I am Zakiya Edens, the Founding Director of the best multimedia academy at Coolidge High School in Washington, DC.
Coolidge is the only DC Public Schools high school with a state-of-the-art multi-media studio. Our students are creating some of the BEST media in DC. 

The last few years changed my life in so many ways. I met [Executive Director] Jillian Scott in 2019. Thanks to Jillian and DreamWakers,  I had the opportunity to tour the White House. After the tour, my students had a duet on their first podcast with the White House Historical Association. Months later, the pandemic hit, and I was thinking about how I could spice up the virtual classroom. I filled out one request form for a DreamWakers guest speaker; the rest was history. 

Q: What has your experience been like partnering with DreamWakers?  What impact has it had on the lives of your students? 

A: My students had the opportunity to meet several Emmy award winners, sports journalists, weathermen and women, TV producers, and fashion photographers. The list goes on.  

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

A: I am forever thankful for creating a space where my Black and Brown students can see what success looks like from some of the most humble, well-educated industry professionals. The best part is my students are able to see themselves in the guest speakers. 

Thank you, 2022 awardees, for your outstanding commitment to helping students to SEE what they can BE, epitomizing DreamWakers’ collective mission in your day-to-day work. DreamWakers truly values your partnership. Please join us in congratulating our awardees on all they have accomplished by visiting our Instagram! Follow our page to see more from our awardees, and to stay up-to-date with all things DreamWakers!

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