There are heroes in our classrooms everyday, and Theresa Prioleau is one of them. Despite her challenges, she is a dedicated community champion for Cross, and her lessons of love extend beyond the classroom. Count on 2’s Octavia Mitchell surprised Ms. Prioleau in her classroom in Berkeley county. She’s our Everyday Hero.
It’s a big surprise for a very special teacher, Ms. Theresa Prioleau. An educator for 23 years, she taught for many years at Cross High School. Ms. Prioleau is now a 6th grade teacher at Cross Elementary. “Mama, everyone calls me mama. Mama, and that means a lot, and even their mothers know we’re sharing this child. That’s our baby.” Sixth-grade student Maliq Ravenel says, “She’s a really great person. She’s always nice, and she’s always giving people second chances.”
Prioleau is a single mother of four children, three of them have special needs, despite limited mobility. Ms. Prioleau is an inspiration to many and a pillar of the Cross community. “Twenty-five years ago, I woke up paralyzed. Come to find out I had a tumor on my spine that left me paralyzed,” Prioleau says. She gained some mobility and went on to create the annual Kids Day in the Cross community 20 years ago, an event that helps hundreds of people every year. Prioleau says, “Being in a rural community, you don’t have a lot of resources available. People call me all the time because they don’t know what’s out there or what’s available to them. They may be struggling with paying their rent, struggling finding food, or they may have special needs kids or relatives that they want supportive services for. So I’m usually that go to contact person for them. Kids day came as a means of bringing all those urban resources to the rural communities, so the community would have access to that and know what’s out there and available to them.”
Chakita Spears, also an educator, nominated Theresa. “She does not miss work. She always shows up. Twenty years of doing Kids Day is just amazing to me. She’s an Everyday Hero because she is persistent in her cause of education and she is also someone who does not back down. She is all about the kids.”
A teacher, advocate, mother, and friend, trough it all, Ms. Prioleau keeps a smile on her face and never complains. She says, “I have no other choice but to do this, and to serve. God has put that on my heart. He’s put that on my mind. He’s put that in my spirit. I rarely take off work. If I take off work it’s something tragic. I can have one of my kids, I’m back at work in two weeks. I could be in a car accident, come back the next day. It’s no problem for me. I have to work. I can’t stay home. I have to do. I have to serve. I have to assist, and that’s what God has put in my heart for me to do.”
Over the years, Ms. Prioleau adopted between 10 and 30 students at Cross High School in the “Save our Students” program. The program encouraged faculty and staff to mentor and assist at-risk students.