Founding Volunteer (FV):
Jeffrey “J” Prothero
Born and raised outside of Pittsburgh, I was blessed to have a dad who required of my having a hard work ethic and the know-how to do things right. On this foundation, my summers were spent working my way through college painting houses. From fall through spring, I studied Finance for the sole purpose of knowing what to do with my paycheck once I entered ‘the real world’. After dabbling in post-graduate studies in MIS and Computer Science, I became bored and restless. It was time for me to go to work and find a company whose opportunities matched my career objectives.
Five years of boot camp with AT&T in hardware sales prepared me for having my own business again, coincidentally in the Finance space. Some 25 years later, I left that company so I could explore my longing to teach and work with kids. By then, it was late 2014, perfectly situated at Roswell High School as a parent volunteer in their new Construction Technology program. It was here that I fell in love with the opportunity to be a part of something truly great which had the potential to impact hundreds of kids, many of whom lacked a ‘personal connection’ to public school. So, here I am… never before happier… and a member of an awesome team of Toolbox volunteers who pour themselves into the lives of elementary and middle school kids, so that they might discover more about who they actually are when they get to build with their hands. It is my belief that all the while they are building with their hands, so too are they building that ‘personal connection’ and so too are they building confidence and pride, two things that are imperative to our overarching hope for all children. And, that hope is for them to simply be happy.
Chief Volunteer of Strategy (CVS):
Rusty is an Atlanta technology entrepreneur and executive having led numerous successful Atlanta High Tech start ups and turnarounds, including Peachtree Software, Choice Software, Ads Nettools, GTE Interactive Services, iFleet, Knowlagent, Intradiem and others. He currently is the Chairman of QuickVault Inc and CEO of Bluechip Athletic Solutions.
Rusty’s primary passion is for the advancement of Servant Leadership in work and faith organizations and as such he has provided strategic leadership and board service to High Tech Ministry, The Methodist Children’s Home, Worklife Ministries, Roswell United Methodist Church and many others.
Rusty, an active mentor of entrepreneurs, as the founding Director of the Ambassador Leadership Program that prepares high potential rising leaders in the technology field with the passion and skills to integrate their faith in the workplace and community.
He is an Auburn University graduate, where he was recognized in 2002 as the outstanding Alumnus of the IE School. As an unrelenting advocate for youth, Rusty developed and led a senior high Sunday school program called Senior Experience for over 20 years as well as coached numerous major league baseball players.
He has been married to his college sweetheart, Ann, for 41 years and has three adult children and 3 grandchildren.
Chief Volunteer of Elementary Education (CVEE):
I always wanted to teach. I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Elementary Education. I began my teaching career in third grade in Montgomery County, Maryland. While teaching, I attended Western Maryland College and received my Master’s Degree in Reading. This began a 43-year love of teaching. During that time, I taught grades 2-6, when the sixth grade was still in elementary school. I taught 31 years in Montgomery County, and 12 years in Fulton County. I retired in 2013. I then substituted for two years in Fulton County. I began to look for volunteer opportunities. When J Prothero called and told me about a vision he had for teaching children construction skills, I was doubtful I could be of any help. I told him that I knew nothing about woodworking and he responded, “True, but you know kids.” While building and constructing, the children are not only learning with their hands, but with their minds. It is amazing to see the growth and skills that these students achieve. And…..I have learned a thing or two myself!
Chief Volunteer of Media Relations (CVMR):
Effie White is a Media and Marketing Manager with almost two decades of experience writing, engaging, building and designing in the online space. Although all her tools are digital, she is no less dedicated to her craft than those who build in the physical world.
Her primary expertise is helping companies establish and grow their digital platform. She has worked with both startups and long-standing firms and learned that every organization has a message, regardless of its size or purposes. She says that if you want your message to be heard, you have to reach out to your audience where they are.
Effie first learned about Toolbox when she signed up her son for the Young Apprentice Construction Club. As a parent volunteer, she got to see firsthand the joy and pride of the children as they built their projects with their own hands.
Effie believes that education should be adaptive and accessible to students regardless of income or zip code. She is excited to be a part of the Toolbox team because it offers free, hands-on, real-world education and experience to children, many of whom may otherwise not have such an opportunity.