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Past Heroes – 2004

RARE Everyday Hero Stories


2004 - Hector Perez
2004 - Ernestine Sanders
2004 - D. Wynns and R. Seay
Everyday Hero
Hector Perez
Artis, Art Teacher – Earhart Middle School

About this Everyday Hero

A sculptor and muralist whose bold work is on several Metro Detroit buildings, Perez teaches through the art he creates. Students who work with him learn as much about history and culture as they do about paper-mâché and painting. "If art doesn’t serve a purpose for society, it is not reaching its full potential," says the 45-year-old who teaches art, bilingual and special education. A mural painted this year inside Logan Elementary traced the Detroit school’s history from a largely Polish to mostly Hispanic student body. Principal Maria Elena Vasquez said "mini-artists" vied to help Perez decorate the wall. "He touched a lot of kids," she says, "and he uncovered a lot of natural talent, abilities." Today Perez and his wife reside in Corktown. The oldest of their five children-including two college art students-help their father work with neighborhood youth. "I’m trying to give my kids a sense of community," Perez says. "It’s not all about making money."

Everyday Hero
Ernestine Sanders
President, Cornerstone Schools

About this Everyday Hero

As president of Cornerstone Schools, Ernestine Sanders is widely recognized for her leadership and business skills. But those who know and work with her say she brings far more. "She gives her life and her heart to Cornerstone," says Clark Durant, founding chairman and CEO of the independent school. U+0022Ernestine has made Cornerstone a model of educational excellence." Sanders came to Cornerstone Schools as principal of the Iroquois campus in 1994. She became executive director in 1995, then president six months later. During her tenure, she has guided its growth into four schools on three different Detroit campuses serving 800 students from preschool through eighth grade. Sanders is quoted as saying "Children are all the same. If you provide them with the best possible opportunities, they will excel."

To read more about Cornerstone Schools, click here.

Everyday Hero
D. Wynns and R. Seay
Co-Founders, Positive Male Role Models

About this Everyday Hero

It wasn’t all that long ago that Pontiac Northern High School graduates Ramson Seay and Derek Wynns began mentoring at-risk students at their one-time rival, Pontiac Central High School. Four years and dozens of student success stories later, the life-long best friends are on the verge of seeing their efforts expand to include every eighth-grader in the Pontiac School District. "You have to have that passion and the desire to do the work," he said. "You have to be willing to give your all and get nothing back in return. That’s when you know you’re doing it for the right reasons." Wynns said mentoring can be very rewarding. "You end up being a friend," he said. "As the relationships grow, (students) really become family." For information about the Positive Role Models program or if you would like to volunteer as a mentor with Positive Male Role Models, you may contact Derek and Ramson at