Editor’s note: For this year’s Black History Month, Greater Union Life Center is sponsoring banners along Woodland Boulevard in DeLand honoring 16 individuals who have made a positive impact on the city of DeLand, and Volusia County.

Dr. Stephanie Pasley-Henry may live in Daytona Beach, but she still considers herself a proud product of DeLand. She’s an educator, a fitness trainer and a published author, and she’s made her own way as an educational entrepreneur for almost 20 years. Still, she owes her commitment to education to the strength of her community.

Raised in DeLand, Pasley-Henry was a product of Woodward Avenue Elementary, both Southwestern and DeLand Middle, and DeLand High School. She was a cheerleader and a singer in the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church youth choir, and owes her success, she said, to the mentors she had growing up. Not just schoolteachers, like Cheryl Whitted, Toniya Jenkins and Sharon Williams, but community leaders, like Althea Chavers “the beautiful,” Martha Elridge and Stan Whitted.

“I wasn’t the fastest, I wasn’t the smartest, but they poured into me a confidence that makes me relentless,” Pasley-Henry said. “So many people in DeLand I can name impacted my life, and they still do today.”

After graduating from DeLand High School, Pasley-Henry went on to study education at Bethune-Cookman University. During her time there, she was a singer, dancer and the orator in the Concert Chorale, and she was even named Miss Bethune-Cookman 1995-96.

“I studied education,” she said, “and then I came back and served as dean in the same building.”

Pasley-Henry went on to get her master’s degree and doctorate in education at Nova Southeastern University in Broward County, where she started her career as a classroom teacher.

That’s where she developed the craft she pursues to this day — teaching teachers.

When some of her students struggled with math, Pasley-Henry and the students created a song to help teach the subject. From there, she began developing unorthodox ways of getting students to learn reading and math through music, dance and exercise. She calls them “parties,” and now she travels to schools across Florida and the rest of the country conducting workshops for teachers.

IT’S A MATH PARTY — Educator Stephanie Pasley-Henry helps a group of students learn
math through dance and exercise during one of her math party events.

“I was able to go back to my elementary school, Woodward Elementary, to do assemblies to train the teachers,” Henry said. “I was actually training the teachers who taught me.”

Today, Pasley-Henry continues to help teachers connect with their students, and she connects with students herself, too.

“I have CDs, DVDs, teacher books, student books,” she said. “I also have two mobile apps. One is called The Math Party, and the other is called The Reading Party. I also have a digital platform where kids can get online for my songs.”

She continued, “I have donated many of my programs directly to homes, and at events like ‘The National Night Out’ in DeLand with hopes to increase the confidence and academic achievement levels of students in my hometown who may need that extra motivation.”

She’s now 19 years into her career as an educational entrepreneur, and is proud of forging her own way.

“My dad would always say, ‘A winner never quits and a quitter never wins,’ and my mom would say, ‘Stay humble and real; never forget where you come from,’” Pasley-Henry said.

She thanked the City of DeLand and Greater Union Life Center for recognizing her for the Black History Month banner program.

“I’d like to express my sincerest gratitude to the selection committee, the City of DeLand and all who took the time to purposefully and positively pour into me,” Paisley-Henry said.

After all, she’s a DeLand kid at heart just trying to inspire other kids.

“Every child needs to be seen,” she said. “When you’re seen, you feel it, and you know it. When you’re seen as a child, you know it as an adult.”

She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated, leads a free strength training class three days a week, and directs the youth choir at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

Pasley-Henry is married to the mayor of Daytona Beach, Derrick Henry Sr. Together, they parent three children, Paisley, Derrick Jr. and Michael.


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