Hers is the first face most see when they walk through the doors of Gillespie Park Elementary. Even behind plexiglass and a mask you can tell she’s smiling as she takes the temperatures of students and staff back to school for the first time since spring. As general assistant at the school Lisa Bond knows just about every student, parent and teacher in her community. She knows their hopes, and she knows their challenges. She also knows they aren’t alone in wanting their students to succeed.

Bond has made her career in schools, but her first and favorite job is mom to Wendell and Atira. A proud mom, she swells with pride talking about them. “My son taught himself how to play the drums, the trumpet, the trombone, sousaphone, and his big instrument is the tuba. Atira plays the saxophone, clarinet and guitar.” When they were in Guilford County Schools, she and her husband, a truck driver, encouraged them to work hard, and surround themselves with positive people. “We were concerned about how we were going to get these kids to college. We wanted them to go, because they’re smart kids,” she remembers. “We told them, ‘Don’t worry; with faith there’s a way.’”

In 2015, when her son was a senior, they started to see the way. “He received over $400,000 in scholarship offers, and we were thrilled,” but Bond said the scholarships were not going to cover everything. “Say Yes Guilford helped my son, covering tuition that scholarships didn’t cover. That was a tremendous help, and for my daughter too.” Atira graduated just a year later, and like her big brother earned Say Yes scholarship dollars to help pay her tuition. Both are excelling as students at NC Central earning recognition for academics and accolades for their musical talents. Wendell composes his own music and aspires to be a band director; Atira dreams of a career in marine biology. “I want them to be free to do the things they want to do, and not be hindered by any circumstances. We always tell them ‘you can.’”

An educator at heart, Bond shares her family story every chance she gets. “I tell parents all the time, ‘Have your child talk to their counselor about that Say Yes program right now.’” Her own children are close to graduation, and that smile creeps back up to her eyes when she thinks about it. “It’s a relief for them to start off their life as a graduate, not having to be in debt. It’s a big