A longtime educator and a longtime supporter of public school education in Orange County were honored for their work earlier this month by some of Virginia’s top officials.
Orange County High School teacher Laurie Limoge-Jamerson and the president of the high school’s alumni foundation, Bill Hager, were recognized at the annual Celebration of Education on Aug. 20, where they received a show of support from Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner as well as Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Democrats who represent the commonwealth in Washington.
Limoge-Jamerson and Hager were specifically recognized for their commitment to the advancement of career and technical education.
“We have so much focus right now on the course subject areas,” Limoge-Jamerson told The Daily Progress. “We forget that without career and technical education we would be pretty much on our own survival as far as anything that has to do with a skill.”
Limoge-Jamerson, who has been an educator for some 40 years now, currently teaches technical drawing, engineering drawing, architectural drawing, advanced drawing and design, and technology of robotic design at Orange County High.
At the celebration, she was given a lifetime achievement award from the Orange County Education Foundation, which recognizes her dedication to teaching and highlighting the value of career and technical education, according to the foundation.
She was also presented with a letter from Kaine, Warner and Spanberger commending her for her work.
“It was really overwhelming,” Limoge-Jamerson said. “I just couldn’t be more honored.”
Despite the challenges teachers face every day in every part of the country, Limoge-Jamerson said her career in education has been “wonderful.” She said she is thankful every day to be doing it.
“I have made a lot of difference in people’s lives, especially students that are in career and technical education,” Limoge-Jamerson said. “I have students right now that are in architecture school, engineering school, people that are working in the field in the trades also.”
Hager, who also received a letter from the trio of lawmakers, was honored at the celebration as a “Friend of Education” for his work as president of the Orange County High School Alumni and Friends Foundation.
That foundation was established to award scholarships and grants to the high school’s graduates in the career technical education field, according to the organization. It awarded 45 grants totaling up to $95,000 just this fall, according to Hager.
Though honored, Hager said credit is due to the entire team.
“I was honored, but the real tribute is to the donors,” Hager said. “The coach can be a great coach, but if he’s got bad players, he’s not going to win games. I’ve got good players. We’ve got wonderful donors that believe in the support of higher education.”
Hager’s drive comes from “giving back,” he said. It becomes worthwhile when he experiences full circle moments with those who the foundation was able to help, he said.
“One of the most impactful moments was when I was working the street festival and a single mom of two girls, both in college getting scholarships, came up and gave me a hug and thanked me,” he said. “Another young lady, she just flat out stated, ‘I wouldn’t be going to college’ if it wasn’t for the help that the foundation’s given her.”
The Celebration of Education is hosted every year, bringing sponsors and educators from across the county together to support the Orange County Education Foundation’s Teacher Innovation Grant Program.
The grant program awards teachers money to help with projects that aid in educational development. Just under $10,000 was awarded to 12 teachers last year, according to Gary Greenhalgh, marketing director of the Orange County Education Foundation.
It is hoped the grant program will help with the division’s retention and recruitment.
“We see around the country teachers are leaving and they’re leaving for a lot of reasons, so I kind of look at this as a way, not only to help our kids by doing some special projects, but it’s possibly an incentive for the teachers to stay with us and for new teachers to apply to work here,” Greenhalgh said.