Gladys Rhodes Pope
Promoting literacy lies at the heart of this educator, Mrs. Pope, a teacher for over 20 years at Leal School in Urbana, Illinois.
Mrs. Gladys Rhodes Pope is a 1958 graduate of Danville High School in Danville, Illinois. She then went on to attend Parkland College, graduating there and furthering her education from the University of Illinois, where she received a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Education. She was married to the late Lt. Paul Lawrence Pope. Together, they had three children: Katherine, Elizabeth and Paul Martin. Over the years, Mrs. Pope and her husband have cared for several foster children, primarily between the years of 1967 to 1998.
Mrs. Pope taught first and second grade at Leal Elementary School. She put forth an extra effort to motivate and enhance basic skills of her high-risk students in Reading, Writing, and Drama, which improved the self-esteem of all students in her classroom. She felt all students came to her classroom with a special gift.
She is an A.M.E. Stewardess and Missionary at Bethel A.M.E. Church, A.M.E. She has also mentored high risk students from 1997-2001. Mrs. Pope has spent most of her life working with War on Poverty programs, as a neighborhood aide in Burch Village, and as a parent coordinator for Champaign County Head Start. She is also active in the Prairie AIDS Foundation.
Mrs. Pope has received many awards, including the Y.W.C.A. Black Achievement Award, of which she has been an honoree from 1989-1998, the Baha'i Community Award in 1987, the Martin Luther King A.M.E. Award in 1989, the Bethel A.M.E. Missionary of the Year in 1999, and an A.M.E. Outstanding Service Award in 1997.
Mrs. Pope's hobbies are: collecting plates, commemorating churches, and writing short plays and poetry. She published a poem, "Mrs. Lucy's Fine Lace". Her activities include gifts and support for community programs, sponsored by the POPE FOR PEACE Foundation.