Watson College Announces 2019 Razor Walker Award Recipients

The Watson College of Education will present Razor Walker Awards to three leaders whose contributions have made a difference in the lives of young people in North Carolina. The awards, named in recognition of the “razor’s edge” that recipients walk to support education and youth, have been presented to advocates from education, government, business and community organizations since 1993.

This year’s recipients are: Richelle Bragg Dombroski, Laney High School teacher and creator of the school’s Teacher Cadet Program; Dr. Jerry L. Jackson, career educator and coordinator of 100 Black Men of Coastal Carolina’s Saturday Success Academy; and the late Vernon C. Tyson, a retired United Methodist minister and advocate for racial and social justice.

“Each year the Razor Walker awards give us an opportunity to recognize and celebrate leaders in our communities and across North Carolina who have committed their lives to making the lives of children and families better,” said Watson College Dean Van Dempsey. “They act as advocates, are courageous and tenacious, and often times do so in ways that call for sacrifice for themselves and their families. We can see that in the most compelling and powerful ways in this year’s recipients. We are all inspired and humbled by the lives these people have led and the examples they are for us. The night will be an honor for all of us who are part of the Razor Walker awards.”

Richelle Bragg Dombroski has been a teacher and chair of Laney High School’s social studies department for the past 29 years. In 2000, she championed the introduction of New Hanover County’s first Teacher Cadet Program with the goal of “growing our own teachers in the school and district.” More than 250 students have participated in the program since its inception, and more than 35 are currently teaching in North Carolina public schools. Ms. Dombroski is also a valued partner to UNCW’s Watson College of Education. For two decades she has served as a partnership teacher, site coordinator and mentor to Watson College pre-service teachers.

Dr. Jerry L. Jackson’s 37-year career in education included roles as a teacher, public school superintendent and college professor. In 2010, he retired and relocated to Leland, North Carolina, where he is an active member of 100 Black Men of Coastal Carolina, an organization dedicated to mentoring young men and women of color. Dr. Jackson is coordinator of the chapter’s Saturday Success Academy, a program that engages youth in grades 9-12 in meaningful activities that enrich their lives, build character and stretch their minds to think critically with the hope that they will make sound choices in life.

Vernon C. Tyson was a retired United Methodist minister and activist for nonviolent solutions to divisive issues. His efforts to achieve racial reconciliation following the murder of a black veteran in Oxford, North Carolina in 1970, is the topic of his son’s 2004 memoir Blood Done Sign My Name. More recently, Rev. Tyson was arrested in 2013 at the age of 83 during a Moral Monday demonstration in Raleigh, where he again took a stand on behalf of vulnerable citizens. Rev. Tyson passed away in December 2018 but is remembered as a man of faith, courage and gentle strength who was a strong defender of equal rights, civil rights and social justice.

 The awards will be presented at a dinner for the honorees, their families and other invited guests at the Burney Center on April 10.