Update: HCPS Educators and Student Honored as Hopewell “Citizens of the Month”

HCPS Educators and Student Honored as Hopewell “Citizens of the Month”

By R. M. Carkhuff

Updated 9.7.21


“The Chief wanted to recognize people [who] were [working] behind the scene and really never [getting] any credit out in the public,” Ms. Jackie Shornak, Chair of the Chief [Of Hopewell Police] Advisory Committee, explained of the newly minted Citizen of the Month Award. 


“The committee [nominates] those we [feel] deserve that recognition, where they are standing in the background and haven’t ever really been recognized. And so we have started that month-by-month,” said Ms. Shornak. She noted that to find Citizens of the month, the Committee is “going to the people in our neighborhoods, where people have lived a life here in Hopewell, and that have dedicated their lives to helping the community.” 


Four folks tied to Hopewell City Public Schools (HCPS) have been named the Citizen of the Month since its inception. These distinguished citizens are Mr. Malik Wheat, Dr. Jane McCullen, Mr. Andrew Coleman, and Ms. Linda Hyslop. 


The first-ever award went to Mr. Malik Wheat, Data & Testing Specialist at Hopewell High School, in January of 2021. 


“Mr. Wheat is a lifelong resident of Hopewell and has been a teacher in the City of Hopewell Public School system since 2003,” reads the plaque given to Mr. Wheat to celebrate the award. “Mr. Wheat has been described as a positive mentor to his students and an all-around amazing person. He sends out a positive email to each of his students every day and is consistently a support for parents who are struggling and in need of advice. He is admired for his honesty, willingness to help, and for being very humble. Furthermore, Mr. Wheat will oftentimes donate his personal funds to the school system to help with many programs. He always goes above and beyond to ensure our youth are supported and well taken care of.” 


Mr. Malik Wheat, third from the left, holding both his plaque and a big check, stands with three members of VFW Post 637, Chief Kamran Afzal (fourth from the left) and Ms. Jackie Shornak (fifth from the left), Chair of the Chief Advisory Council. Image courtesy of M. Wheat.


Following Mr. Wheat, Dr. Jane McCullen, former Assistant Superintendent for Hopewell City Public Schools, was honored as the Citizen of the Month for March 2021. 


“Dr. Jane McCullen has been a resident of Hopewell since 1957. Dr. McCullen has devoted her entire life to education. She taught elementary school in the Hopewell Public School System and retired in 1996 as Assistant Superintendent, after 41 years of service. She was also a College Professor at William & Mary, Virginia State University, and the University of Virginia, as well as past President of Reading Is Fundamental. Dr. McCullen is a board member of the Hopewell Public School Foundation, which offers teachers grant money to encourage innovative teaching methods. She is a charter member of the Hopewell Twinning Association, our Sister City of Ashford, Kent, England. One of Mrs. McCullen’s passions is preserving the history of Hopewell’s homes. As President, and now Trustee since 2006, of the Historic Hopewell Foundation, she has been an active member in the preservation of Weston Manor and other homes throughout the city. Dr. McCullen’s participation as one of the founding members of Petersburg Area Regional Tourism has helped make Weston Manor a part of the tourism program in Hopewell. Dr. McCullen’s personality is one of kindness, generosity, and making everyone’s life around her better. After her many years of dedication to Hopewell, she remains very active on other boards and committees,” is what is written on Dr. McCullen’s plaque. 


Next came Andrew Coleman, a student at Hopewell High School. He was honored as the Citizen of the Month in April 2021.


On his plaque, you will find the following: “Andrew Coleman is a student at Hopewell High School. Early in life, Andrew struggled with learning disabilities and through determination was able to ensure obstacles would never define him as a person. Andrew saw this as an opportunity and decided to author a children’s book. In this children’s book, his artwork caught the eyes of many; even winning a first-place award in the Keep Hopewell Beautiful Contest. During his time in High School, the football coach and team members chose Andrew to be the team manager. It is said that Andrew is the Blue Devil’s biggest supporter. In the 9th grade, Andrew completed the criminal justice program. His excellence in the subject earned him the chance to compete against other schools in the district in the Battle of Brains for Criminal Justice. Further academic success earned him a seat in the Beta and National Honor Society. Andrew continues his passion for service and criminal justice while serving on the Hopewell Sheriff’s Explorer program. During this time he has volunteered many hours, giving back to the community. Andrew’s positivity and kindness is infectious, and he is a shining example to not only the youth in our community but to all, by showing that nothing is impossible to overcome.”


Most recently, Ms. Linda Hyslop, former educator for Hopewell City Public Schools and current member of the School Board, was celebrated as the Citizen of the Month for June 2021.


Her plaque reads: “Ms. Hyslop has dedicated her life as an educational advocate for the City of Hopewell public school system. Even after her retirement, she is highly respected as a teacher, assistant school superintendent, and currently, she is a member of the City of Hopewell School Board. Ms. Hyslop has been a great influence to many children that have come through the school system and she is well known throughout the community for her generous spirit and loving heart. She has also served many years with the Hopewell/Prince George Crime Solvers program.” 


After receiving her award, Ms. Hyslop shared a few words. 


“We came here from Miami, Florida. I was a sophomore in high school,” she told the small crowd gathered around. “It meant so much for us to be here in this small community, which I call family, and like I tell people -- I chose to live here because I love it so much. It is a close community and we have so many people that do so much for our community.” 


Hopewell City Public Schools are incredibly proud of the HCPS community members who received these prestigious awards. 


As Ms. Shornak said, “It’s really neat to see people that are so deserving really get the recognition they deserve. We have great people here in Hopewell, and it’s just nice to say ‘thank you -- thank you for all the years that you’ve dedicated your life, no matter what you’ve done.”