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Community Foundation Celebrates Dawbarn Education Award Winners
Nov 5, 2015

At a ceremony on November 4th, the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge presented awards of $10,000 to each of ten individuals during the 22nd Annual Dawbarn Education Awards ceremony.  With nearly 200 guests in attendance at the Best Western PLUS Waynesboro Inn and Suites Conference Center, the Community Foundation celebrated the inspiring contributions to local education offered by each of the recipients.

Dunlop “Buz” Dawbarn established a permanent fund at the Community Foundation in 1992 to support the Dawbarn Education Awards in perpetuity. Since that time, the fund has provided over $1,400,000 in awards to 217 individuals who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to inspiring education and learning among the young people of our public schools.

“The Community Foundation is an opportunity for anyone to make the best ideas for our community a reality,” noted Dan Layman, the Foundation’s CEO. “Mr. Dawbarn’s vision for this awards program is a wonderful example of that principle, and we take tremendous pride in continuing his legacy of commitment to our community.”

The Community Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides a simple, powerful, and highly personal approach to giving back to the community.  As one of the largest philanthropic institutions in the region, it is committed to careful stewardship and thoughtful investment in our community’s future. With nearly $20 million in assets, the Community Foundation distributes approximately $750,000 annually to the community in grants, scholarships, and awards.  “We work with individuals, families, local businesses, and non-profit organizations to establish permanent charitable legacies to respond to needs in the independent cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, and the counties of Augusta, Nelson, and Highland,” added Layman.

2015 Dawbarn Education Award Recipients

Iris Carter – Instructional Aide, Waynesboro High School

Mrs. Carter goes above and beyond her normal duties to encourage, inspire and foster learning for the students at Waynesboro High School as well as youth in the Waynesboro community.   She builds connections with students in the classroom, develops student character through numerous volunteer efforts, and inspires them to reach their full potential.

Amongst the teaching staff at Waynesboro High School, Mrs. Carter is one of the best and most well respected instructional aides.   Whether it’s tutoring for a specific class, finding the appropriate financial assistance for college, or preparing a student for employment, Mrs. Carter will go out of her way to help a student achieve their goals.

Mrs. Carter also serves as the sponsor of the Interact Club and provides help to youth beyond the doors of the high school through her role as youth director of Union Baptist Church in Waynesboro. She encourages students to  give back to the community through several community service projects such as Adopt a Soldier, Stuff the Bus, volunteering at local preschools, food drives, and serving as Salvation Army bell ringers, just to name a few.

Gary Church – Bus Driver, Augusta County Schools

Mr. Church has been an important member of the Augusta County and Waynesboro City Schools for 43 years. Currently, he is driving a bus for Hugh K. Cassell Elementary School where he completes a traditional route as well as routes for the Head Start program and the after school program.

Mr. Church is always respectful, makes a point of knowing each child, and arranges his bus for safety and comfort. He has made the extra effort to have twelve booster seats for children who benefit from this accommodation.  He is ready, willing, and able to work with students with challenging behaviors, medical alerts, or special needs.  Mr. Church has done an extraordinary job as a bus drive, custodian, and maintenance worker.

Mr. Church provides the students at Cassell Elementary with safety training to ensure that all children remain safe while in his care. He is an active member in the school community, always reaching out to help others in need.

John Fregosi – Math and Drama Teacher, Robert E. Lee High School

In addition to teaching mathematics, Mr. Fregosi is also a theater instructor and director of several plays annually. Outside of his regular teaching hours, Mr. Fregosi spends an innumerable number of weekends and weeknights educating drama students in the various technical aspects of production.  He possesses a rare combination of creativity, intelligence, compassion, and drive.

In the classroom, Mr. Fregosi is known for his innovative use of technology and his efforts to reach students that may have visual challenges to understanding geometry. He often works with his math students after school hours, rescheduling other activities to accommodate their needs.  His students recognize that he cares about their learning and that he wants them to succeed.

Lee Drama has benefitted greatly from Mr. Fregosi’s involvement in both the conceptual and practical aspects of many productions. From producing an original play to constructing and operating life-size puppets, Lee Drama is an ambitious organization.  Mr. Fregosi sets lofty production goals and then encourages students to work towards them.  He also approaches his work and success with a degree of humility that is rare and admirable.

Emily Lassiter – Director, YoungLives

As the local YoungLives director, Emily Lassiter works with area teenage girls who are pregnant, or are already parenting children. She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of these young women and their children.  Her goal is to ensure they graduate from high school and acquire the skills needed to become independent, productive citizens who are also nurturing, successful mothers.

Teenage pregnancy is a cycle that often happens for generations. Mrs. Lassiter hopes to break this cycle for these young women by emphasizing the importance of education and confronting other issues that contribute to teen pregnancy. She also makes every effort to connect them to various social service programs in the community.

Mrs. Lassiter develops creative solutions for daycare and transportation. She even provides personalized tutoring.  The young women in her care had a 100% success rate last year.  They all graduated from high school.  Three of them are currently in college, and the remainder are gainfully employed.

Shannon Love – Third Grade Teacher, McSwain Elementary School

Shannon Love was the 2015 Staunton Teacher of the Year. She sets high expectations for her students, identifies students who may be struggling, and provides the encouragement each student needs in order to succeed.  Her deep commitment to each student drives her to quickly adapt her lessons plans so that no student is left struggling in her class.  She never gives up.

Mrs. Love is a professional. She leads her colleagues, inspires her students, and relates to her students’ parents. Not only is she an outstanding teacher, she is an outstanding role model in our community. She understands the many issues facing education today and fosters a lifelong appreciation for learning among her students and community members.

Courtney Markham – Fifth Grade Teacher, North River Elementary School

Courtney Markham was the Augusta County Teacher of the Year for 2015. She recently transferred to North River Elementary from Verona Elementary.  Students in her classroom are often heard laughing, singing, chanting, and having fun.   She engages her students using movement, technology, and whatever she can find to ensure that all students are learning.  Mrs. Markham frequently sends postcards of encouragement to her students.  She attends after school events to support her students and takes an active role in helping them be successful.

Mrs. Markham does not have a teacher desk.  She doesn’t take up space for something she doesn’t use.  She is often sitting on the floor talking and teaching students.  Her students rarely sit in their seats.  They are moving around, singing a song about the earth’s interior, sitting in comfortable chairs reading, or sitting on the carpet for group discussions.

In her first year at North River, Mrs. Markham volunteered to supervise the Student Council. Three of the student Council members planned their graduation ceremony.  She allowed them to be leaders and learn from their mistakes.  Mrs. Markham also helped with the North River spelling bee and led the 24 Challenge math team.

Margaret Miller – Art Teacher, Wilson Middle School

Margaret Miller has been teaching art in the Augusta County School system for 19 years. In that time she has been recognized as an outstanding art educator with various awards and certificates. In particular, Mrs. Miller has made an extra effort to provide special needs students with the materials and tools they require to participate in art classes. She has taught workshops and made presentations on behalf of these special needs students both locally and at the National Art Education Association conference.

Mrs. Miller also encourages her gifted and talented students, and motivates the students in the national Junior Art Honor Society at Wilson Middle School to be involved in their community. Her students readily make time to offer face painting services at Riverfest and Augusta SPCA’s “Pets in the Park”. Many of Mrs. Miller’s students also created and donated artwork for an SPCA Art Auction fundraiser.

Carole Shriver – Special Education Teacher, Stuarts Draft Middle School

Carole Shriver is a 42-year teaching veteran in our community having taught at Wilson Elementary, Wilson High School, Stuart Hall School, and Stuarts Draft Middle School. As a special education teacher, she has been a steadfast advocate for intellectually disabled, learning disabled, emotionally disturbed, reading disabled, autistic, and traumatic brain injured students in Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro. Mrs. Shriver understands – and has helped others understand – that sincerely reaching out in love to students with great learning needs is the necessary precursor of any real academic progress. She gains the confidence of her students first, so that they can believe her when she tells them that they can succeed and secondly, helps them along the initial, very difficult steps of their learning path.

The students Mrs. Shriver teaches have a different level of potential than most students. Their special needs require skilled assessment, setting individual goals, and tremendous patience and fortitude. Most will never pass the SOLs nor earn a standard diploma. They may never live on their own. They will, however, learn to the best of their abilities and gain pride and belief in themselves. This is, in part, because Mrs. Shriver teaches her students to become their own advocates. Rather than allow her students to say “I can’t,” she teaches them to say, “I will try.”

According to her former principal, “Mrs. Shriver is, without a doubt, one of the finest educators with whom I came into contact during my thirty-one years of school work. Her contributions have been simply inestimable. She is loved by her students and their parents, highly respected by faculty and staff members, and very much esteemed by her administrators.”

Jennifer Strother – Executive Director, Casa de Amistad

Jennifer Strother is a former postmaster who left behind a 28-year career with the U.S. Postal Service in 2009 to assume the leadership of Casa de Amistad, a local nonprofit organization where she devotes her time to helping students in some of Waynesboro’s most challenged neighborhoods.

Spanish for “House of Friendship,” Casa de Amistad operates out of donated space at Basic United Methodist Church in Waynesboro. Their program offers, among other services, after-school homework assistance to students enrolled at four city schools where the free- or reduced-lunch rates are nearly 100-percent. In the six years under Mrs. Strother’s direction, Casa de Amistad has improved the lives of hundreds of students and their families, and has grown from serving six students to 46 students in 2015, with continued growth projected in 2016.

Through Casa de Amistad’s Amigos Readers program, students are welcomed into a safe, encouraging environment where caring volunteers help them complete school assignments, plan and prepare projects, and learn to interact socially with people representing a variety of ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and cultures. In addition to day-to-day operations, Mrs. Strother is also responsible for fundraising, grant writing, volunteer recruitment, and long-range planning. She has dedicated her life to “her” children, their families, and her community. She is devoted to helping them make today infinitely better than their yesterdays, and their tomorrows brighter than they could have ever imagined.

Kristopher Teaford- Civics Teacher and Coach, Kate Collins Middle School

Kristopher Teaford was Waynesboro’s Teacher of the Year for 2015. According to his principal, Mr. Teaford greets every student in the hallways.  He asks them how they are doing and offers help in any way.  He also has a knack for reaching the most challenging students.  He comes to the guidance office each year asking to have those students with whom other teachers have struggled the previous year.  He wants a chance to get them on the right path.  When Mr. Teaford sees students in the office because they have gotten in trouble, he stops to encourage them.  His motto is, “Every child needs a hero.”

Mr. Teaford’s contributions to Kate Collins Middle School go beyond his own classroom. He coaches three sports between the middle school and the high school and creates professional and caring relationships between all of the students and athletes he teaches and coaches.

There are many great teachers in middle school, but it is his connections with students that separate Mr. Teaford and make him an elite teacher. Year after year, students return to his classroom just to greet him because of the positive impact he had on their lives.  It  is his commitment to his craft and to the students who benefit from knowing him that makes him such a extraordinary educator.

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