Teacher, lupus advocate named Community of Character honoree for fidelity

August 6, 2018 Times and Democrat  article (reprinted with permission)

Article by DIONNE GLEATON T&D Staff Writer

citizen of the month - July 2018 - fidelity

Barbara andrews

Barbara Andrews has been described as a dedicated educator not only for her students, but the surrounding community as well. Teaching is something she does not for recognition, but out of a genuine love and concern for others.

Andrews, who has been living with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, for more than a decade, has been a tireless advocate in promoting awareness about the disease within her school and community.

Whether she is organizing walks, symposiums or scholarship fundraisers or spearheading community service projects, she likes to keep students and adults engaged in lupus awareness and serving their fellow man.

Her strict observance of her duties with both loyalty and faithfulness inside and outside of the classroom has earned her designation as the exemplification of fidelity as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.

Admitting the tribute surprised her, Andrews said while she has read the stories of other honorees recognized for good character, she didn’t think she would one day be added to that list.

“I just never thought it would be me. I guess I always minimize the things I do. There are people doing a lot more than I’m doing,” she said.

Andrews, however, has done her share of work. She is a former middle school English/language arts teacher at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler in Norway, where she taught for five years. She will be teaching seventh grade English at Howard Middle School in Orangeburg beginning this year.

While at H-K-T, she worked with her students before and after school, reaching out to businesses and community residents to get donations for the students and the school.

Andrews served as the chairperson of the Character Education Committee for two years and worked on several community service projects with her students, particularly with the Ladies First girls club she started.

"We focused on how a lady should carry herself. We talked about career and college opportunities and avenues. We got together and we talked about the importance of giving back to where you came from,” she said, noting that she let the girls decide how they wanted to help their community.

“We did a community food drive last year, and they also wanted to do a donation drive for CASA in Orangeburg. They talked about adopting a child at Christmas through the Angel Tree program. I'm really hoping that they will continue that even in my absence. I told them, 'If you got questions, you all have all my contact information,’” Andrews said.

She said she demonstrates a loyalty toward educating and encouraging students for a reason.

“Some of the students that I work with have had some issues. People are just quick to write kids off. I don’t believe in doing that. I don’t have a problem going above and beyond. To me, it’s just doing what I need to do for my kids," Andrews said.

“As far as being a representative for lupus awareness, it’s personal for me. Not only do I have it, but it runs in my family here and there. I’ve got really close friends (impacted by lupus). You have to be your own biggest advocate, and if I can advocate for others like me while advocating for myself, I’m getting more bang for my buck."

Andrews is director of Lupus Columbia (SC) Orangeburg Division and helped organize a Walk to End Lupus in May 2016 at Edisto Memorial Gardens. Earlier that year, she was named the 2016 Honda Power of Dreams award winner during the 2016 Honda Battle of the Bands event in Atlanta, Georgia.

Andrews, a South Carolina State University alumnus, and approximately 30 of her students were on hand for the award presentation, along with Honda’s surprise presentation of a $15,000 grant to support the teacher’s dream of establishing a scholarship fund to help students and families affected by lupus.

She has since been awarded four $500 Riland Changing the Face of Lupus Scholarships to students at S.C. State and Claflin universities. The two most recent scholarships were awarded to lupus survivor Kendra Covington of Claflin and S.C. State student Christopher Crawford, whose mother is a lupus survivor.

Andrews is currently working to develop lupus support groups on the university campuses and to establish a prescription assistance program and a lupus registry so a more accurate number of citizens who suffer from the disease can be determined.

“If we don't get awareness up, you'll never find a cure for something that people don't know is a problem … . Lupus is real in the state of South Carolina," she said. "So I've been pushing for the registry because the more we can show as far as how many people have to deal with this, the more money we can get put into funding and the more we can do ... , like the scholarships that I've been blessed to be able to have."

“And we're pushing on that prescription assistance program because it's a real problem and needs real solutions," she added. "You've got to be loyal to the cause just to see it through to the end or you'll never get anything done."

Andrews spearheaded the 2017 South Carolina Lupus Symposium held in April at S.C. State’s Belcher Hall. She said this year’s symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, at the same location.

“S.C. State has been gracious enough to give us the facilities again for this year’s symposium,” she said.

The Detroit native is the mother of a 19-year-old daughter. She credits her parents, Earlie and Geraldine Andrews of Gray, Georgia, with instilling good character in her and her three siblings.

"My mom always said that if you're not gonna try to make something better, you have no right to complain," Andrews said.

"Community service and giving back was always something that my parents pushed because they didn't have a lot growing up. They taught us to be very thankful and to value what we have, and I believe in being a support to my kids because I know how much of a support my parents have always been."