As the Community Foundation celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Dawbarn Education Awards, it proudly presented $10,000 awards to ten individuals who inspire, encourage, and foster education among youth in the cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County. With nearly 350 guests in attendance at The Wayne Theatre in Waynesboro, the Community Foundation celebrated their contributions to education in our local public schools.
H. Dunlop “Buz” Dawbarn established a permanent fund at the Community Foundation in 1992 to support the Dawbarn Education Awards. Since that time, the Foundation has distributed $1.75 million, through 247 Awards, to recognize extraordinary commitment to the education of youth. The Foundation’s Dawbarn Education Awards Committee, comprised of local citizens, selected those nominees who have gone above and beyond the requirements of their assignments to encourage students to reach their full potential.
Mr. Dawbarn was born June 14, 1915 in New York City. After earning a degree in political science from Princeton and studying engineering at Johns Hopkins, he founded Dawbarn Brothers in Waynesboro, later known as Wayne-Tex. While Mr. Dawbarn experienced much professional success, it was his philanthropic and community contributions for which he is best known. He was fundamental in the establishment of the Community Foundation in 1992, since which time the Foundation has distributed over $10 million in its 26-year history serving the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, and the counties of Augusta, Highland, and Nelson.
2018 Dawbarn Education Award Recipients
Abby Boxler Arey: Besides fulfilling her responsibilities as an Assistant Principal at Stuarts Draft Elementary School, Ms. Arey is also a Response to Intervention (RTI) Specialist and has successfully implemented several positive initiatives to benefit her school.
Her nominator describes her as someone with many positive attributes that have made her very successful in her role as an educator. She is knowledgeable in best practices; well versed in child development theory; positive in her interactions with adults, staff, and teachers; and steadfast in her love and commitment to children. “She embodies character and integrity, and constantly demonstrates what a lifelong learner should look like.”
“She is an excellent example of what the Dawbarn Education Award was designed to recognize, a day in and day out commitment to all children as they realize their goals and move towards academic success, while striving to provide the best academic environment possible for each and every student.”
Dane Austin Barr: Mr. Barr is a Science Teacher at Wilson Memorial High School and was recognized as the 2017-18 Teacher of the Year for Augusta County Public Schools. Besides teaching Earth Science and Geology, Mr. Barr plays many other roles in his school. You can find him in the After School program, coaching basketball or softball, and rocking with the teacher’s band Los Maestros.
Mr. Barr organizes overseas and discovery-based field trips because he believes that learning cannot be confined within the classroom walls. His hands-on approach helps students master the course content and draw meaningful connections to their everyday lives. Mr. Barr is also known among his students as an advocate for community service. For the past 10 years, he has helped raise funds and provided Christmas gifts for over 150 students whose parents are incarcerated.
According to one of his recommendation letters, “His character, wisdom and moral compass is evident in the lives he touches. His highest priority as an educator is to serve the needs of his students, both academically and emotionally. Mr. Barr is a very humble and kind man, always doing for others when no one is watching or noticing. [Like every other Dawbarn Award recipient], he prefers to go unnoticed and unrecognized.”
Charmaine Everett-Cupp: Ms. Everett-Cupp works with at-risk students at Waynesboro High School to enable them to recover credits for on-time graduation. She mentors students, keeps them on task, and holds them to high expectations. She helps them look at their life challenges and see possibilities; hurdles are just ladders to climb across. Thanks to Ms. Everett-Cupp, many students not only graduate from high school but also become better, stronger, more confident young adults. Ms. Everett-Cupp not only works well with youth, but also with their parents in an effort to help students develop life plans that often include finishing high school and planning for employment or college.
According to her nominator, “Ms. Everett-Cupp has seen too many students attempt to justify failure by saying, ‘I tried my best . . .’ She is known for telling her students: ‘Don’t just try your best; do what is required.’ Her no-nonsense approach to life is accompanied by an intense passion for teenagers. She gives her students the immeasurable gift of believing that they have a future worth investing in and shares with each student that they have value and that their lives are valuable.”
Jessica Wright Herr: Ms. Herr is responsible for teaching technology to all students at McSwain Elementary School. In her classroom, students develop digital skills, learn to solve problems and create solutions through a multitude of technology devices and resources. Her nominator described what learning is like with Ms. Herr: “Imagine being an elementary student expected to learn about the solar system. Would you rather read text and answer questions or be part of Ms. Herr’s collaborative project with classroom teachers and the art teacher, using iPad and circuits to create a 3D, interactive solar system model and museum? This is just an example of Ms. Herr’s vision to make learning meaningful, challenging, engaging and memorable.”
Mrs. Herr is an innovative, collaborative, and exceptional teacher always looking for means to support her students. She is a five-time Valley Alliance for Education Creative Classroom Grant recipient, and a five-time Blue Ridge Community College, Career Pathway Academy Mini-grants recipient. According to her nominator, Ms. Herr “fosters lifelong learning as students work in an environment of exploration, discovery, and creativity. Ms. Herr’s passion and enthusiasm for innovative experiences is contagious. Mr. Dawbarn would be in awe of the impact she has had and continues to have with the young people.”
Elsa Kiser: For over 40 years, Ms. Kiser has worked for Augusta County Public Schools. During the last 10, she has been the ESL Parent-Teacher Liaison where she serves as the connection between home and school for Hispanic students and families. In her nomination, Ms. Kiser is described as playing an active role in helping immigrant families understand customs and procedures, develop relationships with school personnel, connect with community resources, and learn how to function in the American society. “With kindness, empathy, and respect for each culture, Ms. Kiser patiently works to give parents more confidence in relating to their children’s teachers and in having a better understanding of how the school system works and the requirements and expectations for their children.”
While Ms. Kiser’s responsibility involves assisting families to overcome communication barriers, her impact is much greater. She enables families, and especially students, to focus on educational goals – school attendance, academic success, and higher education or career goals. Immigrant families often struggle with securing basic needs. Whatever the need, Ms. Kiser works tirelessly to support the students and their families. One of her students said that “Ms. Kiser was one of the most important people who led me to my success and furthering of my education.”
Sue Leonard: Ms. Leonard is the P.E. and Driver’s Ed Teacher, the Health and P.E Department Chair; and Head Volleyball Coach at Fort Defiance High School. As a health teacher she is aware that she is imparting life lessons to her students. Creating healthy habits now and learning how to make safe and smart choices – whether it be in eating, dating relationships, or peer interaction – helps ensure that these habits and ideas will guide them as adults.”
For the last 40 years, Ms. Leonard has literally made a difference in the lives of thousands of students. She has helped them set educational and physical goals and then shows them how to achieve those goals. She understands that every student is different and works with each one individually so that they give their personal best. Ms. Leonard understands that her class is perhaps one of the most important classes that her students will ever take because they learn life skills about making important decisions and healthy choices that will affect their lives emotionally and physically forever.
Cristina Lotts: At Shelburne Middle School, Ms. Lotts co-teaches a Language Arts and World Studies (LAWS) class. She is also the Social Studies Department Leader, the 8th Grade Team Leader, and the Faculty Sponsor of the Peer Mediators program.
Ms. Lotts uses a curriculum that she created where she takes students of all ability levels on a virtual tour of the world, exploring history, geography, culture, and current events, using technology and projects to make the content come alive and gives them a broader picture of the world around them. She plans opportunities for deep research and authentic literacy, helping her students create projects that they take back into their communities to foster real world change. The rapport she establishes with students creates a safe harbor for them to take learning and social risks in a nurturing environment.
Ms. Lotts builds partnerships at every opportunity, bringing in as many people as possible to support a child. She helps her students reach their full potential through the programs she sponsors and supports: Shelburne’s Peer Mediators, a conflict resolution training; and Where Everyone Belongs (WEB) designed to teach 8th Graders how to help 6th Graders navigate the world of middle school.
Donte’ Montague: Mr. Montague teaches Fourth Grade at A. R. Ware Elementary School and was named Staunton City Schools Teacher of the Year for 2017-2018. He begins each year by asking students to complete an interest inventory. He uses this information to help him plan meaningful and purposeful instructional activities and focuses on the individual talents and gifts that each child in his classroom has, and helps them develop those skill while also sharing other opportunities for growth which may be outside of the student’s current area of interest.
According to his nominator, Mr. Montague “creates an environment in his classroom that values effort and a sense of community. He is a master at storytelling so he shares interesting information that leaves students hanging and wanting to know more. He uses every learning opportunity to maximize not only students understanding of content, but also the life skills and attributes we would hope for any citizen.”
Bill Terry: Mr. Terry currently teaches World History I and Advanced Placement U.S. History at Robert E. Lee High School. Bill Terry is not just a teacher, but also a friend and mentor to his students. Mr. Terry has the unique ability to make students believe in their own potential. Along with teaching content material he also fosters a belief in the importance of civic learning and service to the community. He is quick to challenge students with rigorous tasks but equally ready to offer support and encouragement.
Many students confirm that Mr. Terry has been one of the most important influences in their lives. He has taught them to have an open mind, a love for social science, and a general fascination with the world around them. He has provided the academic support and resources needed to be successful and has challenged them to be a better person through the outward example of humility and kindness he displays daily.
Eliza Williamson: Ms. Williamson is a Math Teacher, Math Intervention Specialist, Math Department Chair, and Math Instructional Coach at Kate Collins Middle School. She was chosen as Waynesboro City Schools 2017-18 Teacher of the Year. According to her nominator, many of her students “credit her for changing their perspective on math.” Ms. Williamson creates a community of learners in her classroom where students encourage and support each other. They describe her as someone who brings out the best in them by having high expectations, encouraging them to become leaders in the school and community, and modeling healthy relationships with adults and peers.
Mrs. Williamson is a teacher who has an ability to connect and work with any student. She invests her time and empathy in her students. She inspires students by believing in them and instilling confidence in their abilities to accomplish their goals which leads them to face difficulties in school with confidence. One of her former students said that “to the world she may just be a teacher but to me she was most definitely my hero.” Ms. Williamson espouses all of the criteria for this prestigious award and shares the values of Mr. Dawbarn.