Irene Gibson Clay believed in the power of education as a path to a better life—and a stronger community. She was a longtime education and community activist, who left segregated schools in West Palm Beach to teach in South Bay. She began as an intern at
Rosenwald Elementary School in 1953 and soon began teaching. A West Palm Beach native, she became assistant principal in 1972. She kept that job until she retired in 1987. While she was a teacher, assistant principal and after she retired, Irene was active in the community while raising her two daughters.
When Sanjena and Calvina Clay lost their mother, Irene Gibson Clay, they wanted to do something in her honor that depicted her lifestyle and love for the community and education. They decided to create a scholarship fund at the Community Foundation.
“Our main goal in establishing the fund was to give a young person, who may not be able to afford their education, an opportunity to become an educator and make a difference in their community, as my mom did in this community,” said Sanjena.
The Irene Gibson Clay Memorial Scholarship Fund will provide college scholarships to help high school seniors living in Belle Glade or South Bay pursue degrees in elementary education.
“She was very instrumental in getting people to advance themselves and help the community,” Sanjena recalled. “In her own quiet way, she convinced people they had a role to play in making life better for the next generation.”