"A mind is a terrible thing to waste."
It is not only a well-known slogan but a truism. Three women at Hybla Valley Elementary School dedicated their professional lives to thwarting that waste.
On Friday, Feb. 8, their tenacity and singularity of purpose was honored when the school's library-media center was dedicated in their honor. It became an ongoing testament to their combined 80 years of service to young minds, young dreams and young thirst for knowledge.
The names of Blanche P. Delaine, Nellie B. Quander and Nancy Young now hang on the wall of the center for present and future students "to read, and read, and read," as Principal Tommy Thompson said in presenting the trio with the dedication plaque. He also gave each an individualized tribute to their years of service.
"Today we are here to honor three people forever entwined with Hybla Valley Elementary," Thompson told the assemblage of teachers, friends and relatives. "These three are perfect role models for our children today. We thank all of you for your life long contribution."
A PRINCIPAL FOR ETERNITY
Quander, a native Alexandrian, graduated from Parker-Gray High School and received her Bachelor's degree from Virginia Union University in Richmond. She earned her Master's degree and Educational Science degree from George Washington University.
Before coming to Fairfax County and assuming the post of principal at Hybla Valley on Lockeed Boulevard, Quander served as an elementary teacher and principal in the Alexandria School System. Her career also encompassed service as Coordinator of Elementary Education, Administrative Assistant to the Division Superintendent, and Area 1 Administrator.
During the period Quander served as Hybla Valley's principal, she was elected president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the first African-American to hold that position.
Among her many achievements is Educator of the Year, bestowed by Phi Delta Kappa and the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals. In 1986, a Northern Virginia Coordinating Council was named in her honor by the Delta Kappa Gamma Education Society.
"I couldn't think of a better way to spend your life. If I go to heaven when I die and there's an elementary school there I'll become the principal," Quander mused.
READING IS THE SECRET
Blanche Delaine began her own education by being home schooled through sixth grade by her father in Bowling Green, Va. They eventually moved to Washington, D.C, and she graduated from Dunbar High School in 1954.
She went on to receive her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Virginia Union University in Richmond and a Master's degree in Education and Administration from George Mason University, Fairfax.
After moving with her family to Alexandria, Delaine transferred to the Fairfax County Public School System in 1971. Her first assignment was at Oakview Elementary School as a Reading Teacher. In 1972 she joined Quander at Hybla Valley, also as a Reading Teacher.
Her expertise in this specialty was sought out in 1977 by Dr. Herman Howard, Area 1 Superintendent, when he asked her to join the Area 1 Office as a Reading Resource Teacher. This enabled her to provide reading in-service workshops at both George Mason and George Washington Universities.
In 1978, Delaine returned to Hybla Valley Elementary where she succeeded Quander as principal in 1979. She also joined the staff of George Mason University supervising student teachers. She and Quander both retired in 1989.
Following her retirement, Delaine continued her work with student teachers at George Mason, "I enjoyed that until my eyesight went bad. Now my grandchildren are my life," she said. Both boys, seven and eight year's old, were in the audience to honor their grandmother.
ALWAYS A FAMILY
"This whole ceremony is like old home week. We are, and always have been, a family at Hybla Valley," is how Nancy Young, the longest resident teacher among the three at the elementary school, described the afternoon's festivities.
Starting in 1966 after her graduation from Longwood College with a degree in Elementary Education, Young served her entire career at Hybla Valley, retiring in 1999. Through her tenure she taught first, fourth and sixth grades.
Born at Langley Field Air Force Base, her family moved to Alexandria when she was two. In addition to commencing her teaching career in 1966 she also married her husband Jim, that same year.
During her years at Hybla Valley, she developed and taught a computer lab program for grades K through six. The fruits of her labors can be seen in the computers throughout the newly dedicated library-media center.
Young received her Master's degree in Education from George Mason University in 1979, majoring in Administration and Supervision. She was nominated for the Washington Post, Agnes Myer Outstanding Teacher Award in 1997.
She and her husband, who also retired in March 2001, are "just enjoying retirement," she said. "Doing all the things we didn't have time for before, such as gardening and golfing. And I still do the Book Fairs here at Hybla Valley."
Prior to kicking off the ceremonies, the fourth grade music class offered several inspirational renditions, followed by Thompson emphasizing, "Last year we began a new era at Hybla Valley with a new addition to the school and the new library-media center. We entered the 21st century."
EDUCATION — WINGS TO THE FUTURE
First opened in 1965, Hybla Valley Elementary School serves part of what once was a large area tract of land owned by Thomas, sixth Lord of Fairfax, given to him in 1648 through the royal grant of Charles II. Fairfax County was formed in 1742.
Hybla Valley Farm was one of the larger farms in Fairfax County. It was sold in 1942 to become the Alexandria Airport, operated by the Mount Vernon Airways. It was the largest airport south of New York for several years.
Hybla Valley Airfield was taken over by the Navy as a daytime training field in 1940. The new base was designated, "United States Navy Auxiliary Field, Hybla Valley," according to records. It was in use throughout World War II.
Following the war, the airfield was purchased by W.R. Ashburn who established a private flight school. In 1952, the property was sold to Banks and Lee, developers of the Hybla Valley community.
The school is built next to one of the old airfield runways. That is why its insignia is an airplane and school colors are sky blue and silver.