WFXR is highlighting remarkable women in our area that are nominated by you, our viewers. This story features Charnika Elliott, founder, administrator and classroom teacher at the Noah-Christian Academy.
ROANOKE, VA (WFXR) — Charnika Elliott always had a passion for education.
“I used to have school in my aunt’s basement, my cousins probably hated me cause I would have them after school go to the basement and play school,” Elliott said. “I even told my first principal that one day I would start my own school.”
Elliott fulfilled her prophecy in 2005. She fulfilled her prohecy in 2005, when she walked away from being a public school teacher and started Noah Christian Community Center, which later became the Noah Christian Academy. The academy is now located inside of New Life Christian Fellowship Church.
The staff, including Elliott, are volunteers and receive a stipend. She’s confident as the school grows, so will the funding and sponsorship. The school serves preschoolers to fifth graders.
“It offers small classes and reaches those that are socially economically challenged,” Elliott said. “At risk students, students who have been bullied, who have severe learning disabilities on free and reduced tuition.”
Elliott wanted to share her compassion and nurturing heart to more than just her students.
“My husband and I became pregnant with our first son, Noah. We were ready to deliver.”
However, having baby Noah wasn’t easy.
“When you go to have your baby you expect to hear crying not silence,” Elliott said.
Baby Noah didn’t have a heartbeat. The couple tried again and again. Their second son — baby Christian — was born with no heartbeat.
The devastated educator and wide didn’t only bury two infant sons, but eventually buried her guilt and shame. Instead of saying “why me”, she began to say “why not me?”
“I am a woman of great faith,” Elliott said. “People think it is something a lot more. No, that is what is was. It was prayer, praise and perseverance that helped me. But it was also me looking at myself and knowing that there is so much that I can offer the world.”
Teacher Natasha Mayo agrees.
“She does many things within the community church and school,” Mayo said.
That is why Natasha Mayo nominated Charnika Elliott for the Nexstar Remarkable Woman of he Year.
“She’s an inspiration to see what she’s gone through and overcome,” Mayo said.
Charnika has overcome these obstacles. Even after a third pregnancy ended in miscarriage, she and her husband tried again.
Their fourth child was a baby girl — she was a promise fulfilled.
“Promyss because she was the promise that God promised to my husband and I”.
Shortly thereafter, the couple took in one of her students, 12-year-old Devonte. Their family continued to grow for there.
Doctors told Elliott she probably would never be able to give birth to a live boy.
She did. Baby Joshua had a heartbeat and was born exactly 10 year to the day Noah was born.
“I decided if I am still alive and my kids weren’t and one point I wanted to die with them – but I was still alive so purposeful living became a mission,” Elliott said. “So how could I make the vision that school that I always wanted to come to alive would be to put my son’s names on it. Now I am really going to have my heart attached to it – and I am going to give it my all. And to make sure they are known.”
Everyday that she walks into the door of the school she founded in honor of her sons, she is reminded of their legacy and her childhood dreams.
“We all experience some kind of loss rest in the bad days, but take glory in the good days.”
A mother and educator has turned her tragedy into hope for tomorrow for so many students in the Roanoke Valley.