OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It was a special day for Oklahoma City – as Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation held its 39th annual Wall of Fame Humanitarian Awards.
School officials said the event celebrates the rich history of Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) by recognizing alumni and leaders who have contributed to the community.
“It’s hope, its success, its giving back to those who really contributed to our school district. Our kids can aspire to this and look at the trailblazers and say I can do that too,” said OKCPS Superintendent Sean McDaniel.
The special event recognizes Oklahoma City Public Schools alumni who have made significant contributions in their fields; many of whom get their start right here in OKC.
The 2023 Wall of Fame event will honor four individuals, as well as one couple who is designated as this year’s Unsung Hero: Cuong Do, J. Don Harris, D.D.S., Pam Henry (posthumous), Florence Jones-Kemp and Ray and Pat Potts.
Florence Jones-Kemp can often be found bustling about her kitchen, but Monday she was found in front of a podium.
“I have so many stories to tell that I don’t even know where to start,” she said.
The legendary restauranteur said she learned to cook following her mom around the kitchen, but the daughter of sharecroppers credits much of her journey to her time matriculating through Douglass High School.
“I had taken home economics and I had two teachers that took me under their wings…I thank them for teaching me all of these things,” she said.
“[Florence] excelled in both cooking and sewing … [so] to have her teachers really pour into her and really help her understand how valuable the lessons were that she learned in the kitchen [was influential],” added her daughter Victoria.
Superintendent Sean McDaniel said the celebration is an opportunity to honor those who have made a lasting impact.
“Our kids can aspire to this and look at the trailblazers and say I can do that too,” he said.
At 92 years old, Ms. Florence is still kneading out lessons she learned long ago; there’s no talk of retirement.
“I’m determined not to do that. I’mma be kicking my heels up,” she said, laughing.
The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation says it provides teacher, classroom and school support for the district.
The foundation is currently working to make sure OKCPS students have winter coats for the upcoming season.