(Video, photo gallery) Hollis wins top education honor from State Chamber


John Hollis,the founder and director of MERIT – Minority Educational Regional Incentive Training was presented the John Taylor Education Leadership Award from the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and its affiliate, The Partnership.

The honor was presented Monday night at Wilmington University’s Doberstein Admissions Center Auditorium.

“It is extremely exciting to honor such a deserving man – a lifelong and second-generation Delaware educator – who has successfully focused his passion toward the recognition and development of the human capability of young people,” said Katie Wilkinson of Fulton Bank, chair of The Partnership, Inc.’s Board of Directors.

In accepting the award, Hollis said it took a team effort to build MERIT from its humble beginnings.

In collaboration with a group of engineers from DuPont’s Seaford plant in 1974, Hollis created MERIT to provide academic enrichment and college preparatory opportunities for minority students from theSeaford area, and across Sussex County.

To date, 370 MERIT alumni have gone on to achieve a college degree, accounting for approximately 97 percent of its participants. Hollis has overseen MERIT for 42 years.

In addition to his work with MERIT, Hollis was a longtime administrator, teacher and coach in the Seaford School District, and was the Personnel Director for Delaware Technical Community College. He has also served as Senior Vice President of the Delaware Community Foundation, President of the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club in Delaware, and the Sussex County Manager of Community and Government Affairs at Nemours Health and Prevention Services.

Also honored were:

Thomas McKean High Avid Program

Thomas McKean High School’s AVID initiative is a systematic program whose mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.

The Will to Skill Program

Milford High School, Milford School District

Over the past five years, Milford High School and Milford Central Academy have partnered to establish a system to identify students who have honors, Dual Enrollment, and AP potential.

Specialized Transition to Employment Pathway (STEP) Program

Delcastle Technical High School, New Castle County Vocational Technical SD

The STEP Program is a district-wide certificate program that is part of the continuum of special education services within the vocational district ’s inclusion model, housed at Delcastle Technical High School.

S3 STEM Summer Scholars

Office of Curriculum Instruction, Red Clay Consolidated School District

The S3 STEM Summer Scholars program is a multi-week summer enrichment program, offered to all students living or attending school in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, following the students’ fourth through the eighth-grade year.


Smyrna Middle School, Smyrna School District

Smyrna Middle School, in collaboration with Smyrna School District, has partnered with the University of Delaware in an exciting, innovative, mobility project. Currently, at Smyrna Middle School, approximately 90 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students are designing and modifying 6- and 12-volt battery-operated cars with adaptable gears, programming, switches, and safety supports, specifically tailored for children to meet their mobility potential.

The Superstars in Education Selection Committee considered nominations from the public, private, magnet, charter and parochial schools from around the state.

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