May 16, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 16, 2017)—A local foundation has donated more than $26,000 to support scholarships for students with physical disabilities at Tallahassee Community College.
The Toni Jo Mason Foundation is the legacy of the late Toni Jo Mason. Mason, who held a doctoral degree in educational administration from Florida State University, worked in education throughout her adult life, including at the Florida Department of Education. She also had cerebral palsy.
According to Evelyn Ploumis-Devick, chair of the Toni Jo Mason Foundation’s board of directors, Mason's life was committed to ensuring that all people are recognized by their abilities, rather than their disabilities.
“The scholarship will serve as a tribute to the vision, mission, life work and example of Dr. Toni Jo Mason in overcoming the obstacles experienced by individuals with disabilities,” said Ploumis-Devick.”
Eleanor Bates, another director of the Foundation, worked with Mason throughout her career in special education.
“Dr. Mason helped pave the way for all children with disabilities nationally. She contributed to the development of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and served as a federal child compliance officer for the United States Department of Education. Dr. Mason traveled nationally to ensure the intent and spirit of the law was implemented and upheld.”
Mason also had an important impact locally. As coordinator of diagnostic services for Leon County Schools, she initiated action on the part of the school district to make elementary school playgrounds accessible to students with physical disabilities.
The Dr. Toni Jo Mason Foundation Scholarship will provide support for six eligible students annually for two consecutive years. The Toni Jo Mason Foundation supports a similar scholarship at FSU.
The gift was presented by the organization’s directors, Eleanor Bates, David Devick, Fanchon F. Funk, Julie Jean, Evelyn Ploumis-Devick and Brenda Zeh. Marguerite Davis, another member of the board, was unable to attend.
Julie Jean, the group’s newest board member, commended TCC for “fostering exuberance” and striving to be a “springboard to success” for all its students, including those who have disabilities.
TCC Trustee Donna Callaway, who served for years as the principal of Raa Middle School, said that she knew and admired Toni Jo Mason when the latter worked at the Florida Department of Education.
“I’m sure she’s feeling honored today,” said Callaway.