LCPS Names Educator/MVP of the Year

LCPS Names Educator/MVP of the Year
Posted on 05/11/2021

A culinary arts teacher who teaches students how to succeed both in the kitchen and in life, as well as a school cafeteria manager whose staff has served more than 79,000 meals so far this school year, were honored by Louisa County Public Schools on Wednesday, May 5th as its top certified and classified employees in the school division!


Louisa County High School culinary arts teacher Ben Howell received the 2021 William G. Thomas Educator of the Year Award, which honors the top certified educator at LCPS, during the school division’s annual banquet on Wednesday night. Louisa County High School cafeteria manager Jessica Osborne was named the 2021 Wallace L. Tingler MVP of the Year, which goes to the school division’s top classified employee. 


Howell and Osborne received the awards during a ceremony at Tavern on the Green at Spring Creek on Wednesday night, where they were two of 13 honorees being celebrated. 


LCPS hosts an annual awards ceremony where each of the school division’s six schools is represented by a classified and certified employee (the school division’s operations team is also represented by a classified employee). Each of the 13 honorees earned their opportunity to represent their school by receiving a #TeamLCPS MVP nomination during the 2020-2021 school year. Then, a vote was held amongst each school’s employees to determine each school’s individual winner. 


From there, an independent panel made up of representatives from schools throughout the county collaborated to select the 2021 William G. Thomas Educator of the Year and the 2021 Wallace L. Tingler MVP of the Year, the school division’s two most prestigious honors. 


Both of this year’s winners went above and beyond the call of duty to meet the needs of students during a school year that was unique in its challenges.


Osborne, who has worked at Louisa County Public Schools for 9 years, is known around the school for her organization, positive attitude, and tremendous work ethic. In a portfolio she compiled for the judging panel, Osborne said she believes in the power of positivity and the value of a smile.


“I come to work with a smile because I know there may be one student, one employee, or one stranger who needs to see my smiling face,” Osborne said. “A smile is contagious and sets the tone for the day. When people see happiness, they want to be part of it.”


Osborne, who has served as cafeteria manager at LCHS since 2015, was part of a herculean effort by all school nutrition team members at LCPS during the 2020-2021 school year. At LCHS, Osborne and her cafeteria team have served more than 79,000 meals so far this year.


Osborne attributed part of that accomplishment to the school’s tightly-knitted bond and “One Family” concept.


“It’s a community,” Osborne said. “ We are a small town with a big heart.”


Meanwhile, Howell’s versatility and ingenuity is well-known at Louisa County High School. During his four years at Louisa County High School, Howell has created a world-class culinary arts program and even took on the challenge of teaching culinary classes online for the 2020-2021 school year. Howell said he was amazed by the amount of support he received from students after being named the school’s Educator of the Year.


“I had students applaud when they walked by my classroom,” Howell said. “I had students who I hadn’t seen all semester track me down to say congratulations. I loved seeing our young adults showing true excitement. That tells me that we are getting through to them, and we are providing a strong and supportive environment for them.”


Along with running the school’s culinary arts program, Howell also helps maintain an on-campus apiary filled with thousands of honey bees. Howell’s work in the apiary has been featured in numerous newscasts and articles, and he also works with students to collect and bottle honey.


In his portfolio, Howell praised school and division administrators for encouraging innovation at every level.


“We are encouraged to innovate in the classroom and keep our classes fresh and engaging,” Howell said. “I have worked places where the folks at the highest levels have said the same things, but then crushed our efforts when we were being too ‘radical’ even though our data showed success. It is a breath of fresh air to work somewhere we are actually allowed and supported when we do what is asked of us.”


At Wednesday’s ceremony, Superintendent Straley applauded the work of Osborne, Howell, and the entire group of honorees for their heroic efforts during the 2020-2021 school year.


“Especially this school year, we have seen how valuable our educators are to this community,” Straley said. “During events like our Educator and MVP of the Year ceremony, you get to hear stories about how members of our staff are changing the lives of their students. I always say that people are your most valuable resource, and we have a team full of incredible people here in Louisa County. I’m just so proud of each one of them and it’s an honor to be their Superintendent.”


The school division’s honorees also received congratulations from Louisa County School Board Chairman Greg Strickland and Louisa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Babyok.


“Our school division takes so much pride in the hard work of our team members, and these 13 individuals demonstrate what it means to truly love your job,” Strickland said. “They are such a positive influence on those around them, and it’s hard to put into words how valuable that is. They are truly superheroes.”


“I speak on behalf of our Board of Supervisors and our county leaders when I say that we are extremely proud of this year’s educators and MVPs of the year,” Babyok added. “We have an excellent school division here in Louisa County, and I know our community takes a lot of pride in that. The reason we have an excellent school division is because we have great people who care about one another. As a Board, we are very thankful for that and we love supporting them every way we can.”


Wednesday’s ceremony was the culmination of a year-long voting process known as the #TeamLCPS MVP Awards. Each week, the school division accepts nominations for students, classified staff members, certified staff members, and community members who are living out the school division’s non-negotiables. Each week, approximately 400 nominations are submitted, and one person from each of the four categories is recognized and featured in a highlight video. The weekly #TeamLCPS MVP videos have become a highlight for many people, generating thousands of views online each week.


Superintendent Straley said one of the most rewarding aspects of the process is how everyone in the community is able to be involved.


“Our nominations this year have come from people with diverse backgrounds from all across this county, and what connects them is that they’re thankful for what members of #TeamLCPS are doing for this community,” Superintendent Straley said. “It’s a real boost for our team members when they receive a nomination for doing things the right way. I’m really thankful to everyone who has submitted a nomination this school year.”


The full list of school-level MVPs of the Year who were honored on Wednesday night included:


Jouett Elementary School: Instructional assistant Virginia Staudinger

Moss-Nuckols Elementary School: Nurse Tabatha Smith

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School: Instructional assistant Dawn Lipscomb

Trevilians Elementary School: Instructional assistant Carolyn Johnson

Louisa County Middle School: Instructional assistant Karen Cassell

Louisa County High School: Cafeteria manager Jessica Osborne

Central Office and Operations: Administrative assistant Harriet Thurston

The full list of school-level Educators of the Year who were honored on Wednesday night included:


Jouett Elementary School: Math resource teacher Elizabeth Burchell

Moss-Nuckols Elementary School: Technology coach Amanda Hurd

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School: Reading resource teacher Allison Waggy

Trevilians Elementary School: 4th-grade teacher Megan Barrett

Louisa County Middle School: Technology coach Kate Straley

Louisa County High School: Culinary arts teacher Ben Howell


Louisa County Public Schools would like to thank The William A. Cooke Foundation and Old Dominion Insurance & Investments in Winchester for sponsoring the 2020-2021 #TeamLCPS MVP Awards process. Their support helped make the entire 2020-02021 Educator/MVP of the Year process possible.


The Wallace L. Tingler Award is named after Wallace “Chuck” Tingler, a longtime member of the Louisa Education Foundation. Tingler also tremendously assisted the Louisa County community through his philanthropic efforts while serving as Chairman of the Board for the William A. Cooke Foundation and William A. Cooke, Incorporated. The William G. Thomas Award is named after Dr. William Thomas, who served as the superintendent for Louisa County Public Schools for 11 years. 


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