There’s a special place in heaven for Loudoun County Public School employees.
Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick honored school bus drivers, teachers, custodians and secretaries for 25-plus years of service in the school system at the Tuesday, May 23, School Board meeting.
Katherine Mitchell was the first of seven bus drivers honored at the 2005-2006 Service Awards.
"Katherine, angel, my, my, my. Katherine is the first of our angels this evening," Hatrick said. "There’s a special place in heaven and that place is for school bus drivers."
Bertha Cooper, Adelaide Lutman and Lucille Redmon were recognized for driving Loudoun students around the county for 35 years.
"Think about the days you were driving your children, two or three in the back seat with two adults in the front," Hatrick said. "Now imagine that you have 24 backseats and each one has two or three students in it, and you don’t have another adult with you. You get an idea of what bus drivers in Loudoun County do."
STERLING ELEMENTARY School guidance counselor Andrea Schwinabart was honored for a quarter century of service.
For the past 25 years, Schwinabart has served elementary-school students and she said she’s learned a lot from them.
Last year, one of Schwinabart’s students walked into her office crying because of a family break up.
After she consoled him, he said, "Ms. S., you make me feel good."
Schwinabart said moments like that one make working in Loudoun County Public Schools meaningful.
Park View High School teacher assistant Arretter Ellis has 30 years of memories like Schwinabart’s that make teaching worthwhile.
Ellis worked at five different schools, including Ashburn, Guilford, Sterling and Rolling Ridge elementary schools and Broad Run High School, before she settled down at Park View High School. Although Ellis hopped from school to school, her job title remained the same, special-education teacher assistant.
"Over the years, they [teacher assistants] do a great job of training good teachers," Hatrick said. "I suspect that’s what happened here."
Unlike Ellis, Mary Lowndes stayed in one place. She began teaching at Sully Elementary School in 1970. For 35 years, Lowndes taught third- and fourth-grade students at the Sterling school.
"She has been at Sully Elementary School for a long time," Hatrick said. "Do you think Mary Lowndes likes Sully? Well, we like her."
By the time Hatrick got to Donald Wright, a Spanish teacher for 35 years, it was clear the superintendent had been there the longest.
"The problem is, I’m remembering some of these teachers as students," he said.
THE LOUDOUN COUNTY High School alum has worked for the school system for 40 years.
School Board chairman Robert DuPree (Dulles) compared Loudoun County Public Schools to the army with Hatrick as its general.
"In the Army you have cooks, transportation workers, lieutenants, on up the line," DuPree said. "He is the general who’s in charge."
Hatrick began his career as an English teacher, at his alma mater, in 1967.
"I was planning on going off to grad school, but I stayed," Hatrick said. "I discovered very quickly a thing I love. I made the best decision of my life."
After two years there, he went on to teach English at Broad Run High School. One year later, he became principal of that school. In 1975, he returned to Loudoun County High School as principal.
In 1978, Hatrick was appointed director of special education, then director of instruction, then assistant superintendent of planning and pupil services. Finally, in 1991, he was appointed superintendent.
"He has worked with some 30-odd School Board members," DuPree said, "and for that, there’s a special place in heaven."
Hatrick received a standing ovation.
"Forty years ago seems like yesterday," Hatrick said.
The School Board offered the superintendent position to Hatrick for four more years and he accepted.