On June 15, amidst the mountains of North Carolina, in a school bus traveling back to Kentucky, Vaughn Little found out he was Man of the Year for the Lexington area.
Little not only learned the news that morning but also found out he needed to be back in Lexington by 7 p.m. because the awards ceremony was the same day. He managed to get back in time to attend with his family.
“I remained calm, No. 1,” said Little, assistant football coach and science teacher at Danville High School. “I had to really make sure I maintained my focus, and I had to collect my thoughts in understanding that this is not something that I did by myself.”
The award was decided by the University of Kentucky’s African-American Studies Program, Fayette County’s Fatherhood Initiative program and Phi Beta Sigma fraternity’s Lexington graduate chapter. All eligible participants must live in or be from Lexington or its surrounding counties.
The Sankofa Awards ceremony for all winners, including Man of the Year, Young Man of the Year, Father of the Year and others, included guests like Frank X. Walker, a Danville High School graduate who is now a famed poet and professor at UK.
Little said he had no idea where the nominations came from but was humbled and happy and thanked God and all of the people who have motivated and guided him.
“This Man of the Year (award), it’s not something I called for, or even solicited for,” he said. “It’s something that happened ... and I’m appreciative, of course ... and I’m extremely blessed.”
Little said all credit for the award should go to his co-workers and fellow coaches.
“Education, as we once knew it, has grown to a big, earthly vessel,” he said. “And it’s important that we are doing our best to keep up.”
Aside from coaching and teaching, Little tries to make a difference in the lives of others.
“My role, I feel, is very simple,” he said. “To serve as many people as I can.”
One example of Little’s service is a trip he planned to Tuscaloosa, Ala., last summer with 16 football players. The group helped the victims of the tornadoes that devastated the area in April 2011.
The group spent four days in the area cleaning up any remaining debris and helping in any way it could.
Little also took a school bus full (sponsored by Danville High School) of students, teachers and staff to West Liberty, Ky., the weekend after the devastating March 2 tornadoes.
“We worked all day long, and came back here to Danville after our work, and just said, ‘Well done,’” he said. “Those are small things to us, but to that community we went out and helped, it was big because it’s all about reaching out.”
Little said staff members in the district are afforded the opportunity to engage in positive activities to assist mankind.
“Whatever we are given here, we are given the opportunity to transcend it, to other levels of our global commitment to society,” he said. “And that’s what education is all about.”