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The Story Behind the Student Scholarship that Celebrates Loudoun’s Unsung Educators

Guest blog by John Stevens

Who are the educators in your child’s school? You think of the classroom teacher, the specialist, and the principal. Think a bit more, and you may broaden your scope to the guidance counselor and coach. Now open the aperture a little wider. Think of the bus driver, who begins and ends the school day for many students. Think of the people in the cafeteria who greet and serve each student one by one. Think of the custodian who ensures that the environment is clean and uncluttered, and the maintenance worker who ensures that the lights and the heat and the security systems are all functioning. They do this so that the teachers can focus on teaching, and the student can focus on learning. They are educators just as much as anyone else at LCPS.

They aren’t in the classrooms and their names don’t come home on paper in backpacks. But with every good meal, every safe bus ride, every day spent in a clean place that is comfortable summer and winter, they give our children their best chance to learn. These unsung educators are the very people who create Loudoun Schools’ Climate for Success by making our schools healthy and safe.

Elaine Avington Griffin in Mexico in 1973.

My grandmother Elaine Avington Griffin spent her exceptional life seeing the people who can too easily be overlooked. She was a teenage teacher in a one-room school house. As a young woman and private citizen she successfully pressed her state legislature to reform conditions in mental institutions. As a civic leader she worked to end segregation in her community. She founded a successful real estate business in a university town, but let others concern themselves with the nice homes for professors while she helped those on the economic margins to find their own place to call home. Throughout her life she saw the importance of everyone in her community, sought their help and gave her time freely.

I established the Elaine Avington Griffin Unsung Educators Scholarship Fund in 2008 to honor her, and to recognize the role that custodians, food service staff, transportation and facilities and maintenance staff play in the health and safety of LCPS children every day to give them the best public education possible. Any child of an LCPS employee in these groups is eligible for a scholarship to help them continue their education, whether it be college or another path. It is a thank-you to these Unsung Educators, an opportunity to recognize their critical contributions to the students of LCPS and return the favor through their children.

I am grateful to the Northern Virginia Community Foundation which manages the fund, and to the Loudoun Education Foundation which every year lets LCPS employees and their students know about this opportunity and awards the scholarship. I am especially grateful to those many bus drivers, facilities and maintenance workers, food service workers, and custodians for all of the work they did today to give Loudoun County students a better education. You are educators.

John Stevens is the father of two LCPS graduates and the former Chairman of the Loudoun County School Board, having served on the board from 2007 to 2011. He established the Elaine Avington Griffin Unsung Educators Scholarship in honor of his grandmother, who always valued those who others overlooked.


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For more than 30 years, the Loudoun Education Foundation has demonstrated how community support can make meaningful educational impacts in the classroom and beyond. As an independent nonprofit, we engage our community to invest in critical and innovative programs that foster academic success and the well-being of students and educators. We fund programs that stimulate students’ curiosity, create exceptional learning opportunities, and provide needed resources to educators, students and families.

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