When Dorothy “Dot” Counts-Scoggins was just 15 years old, she knew that she wanted to dedicate her life to helping all children receive a decent education – a mission she has led for almost 40 years.
Before her freshman year of high school in 1957, Dot’s parents, along with several other families in their segregated Charlotte community, applied for their children to be the first to attend an all-white public school.
When Counts-Scoggins, one of just four students chosen to transfer, arrived at Harding High School, she was accosted by a large group of white protestors. She remembered hearing a lady shouting, “Spit on her!” as the crowd jeered and threw things at her back.
After one week, her parents, fearing for her safety, took her out of Harding and sent her to live with relatives in Yeadon, PA.
Motivated by her painful experience, in 1975 Dot established a child care program for disadvantaged children at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC, where she was the director for 12 years.
She wasn’t finished. Counts-Scoggins joined Child Care Resources Inc., in 1988. For 24 years she has worked to ensure that all children get a quality pre-school education.
Counts-Scoggins has traveled to Raleigh and Washington, D.C., numerous times to speak with legislators and advocate for pre-school education. She also has mentored in public schools across the state, telling her story and stressing the importance of education.
“I tell them that people have made sacrifices for them in order for them to have what they have now,” she said.
Today, Counts-Scoggins lives in Charlotte, having retired from Child Care Resources Inc., in July 2012.
And though she is a powerful role model to many, Counts-Scoggins admits that the person whom she admires most is her father, Rev. Herman Counts, a former Johnson C. Smith University professor and Presbyterian minister. She said that he instilled in her the importance of family, faith and acceptance of all people.
“That’s the way he lived his life,” she said. “He’s the kind of person that I hoped that I have grown up to be.”