June 14, 2019

Headshot of Lionel Hope Jr.

Charleston, W.Va. – A man with a fitting name is giving hope to hundreds of students. For this reason, Lionel Hope Jr., an early childhood assistant teacher at Highlawn Elementary School in Cabell County, has been named the 2019 West Virginia School Service Personnel Employee of the Year. The annual award recognizes outstanding school service employees who embody exemplary qualities.

Hope is an 11-year employee of Cabell County Schools having worked 8 of those years at Highlawn Elementary where he is a valued resource to teachers, students and families. He establishes a rapport with his students allowing him to relate to those facing a variety of challenges and obstacles. A man of many talents, Hope reaches out and connects to students through his music, gardening skills and many community endeavors. Hope volunteers with the school’s SAVE our Students mentoring program and serves as role model to all students.

During his tenure at the school, Hope has served under four different principals, earning the highest marks in every category of his annual evaluations. Among the reasons for this is his ability to consistently create a positive atmosphere for students, their families and the whole school community.

“Our school service personnel serve a fundamental role within our education system,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Paine. “Mr. Hope has a selfless attitude and provides invaluable support for his students and his community.”

The West Virginia Board of Education established this annual award program in 2010 to recognize outstanding school service personnel employees including aides, bus drivers, cooks, custodians, maintenance workers, office workers and other school service personnel who best exemplify the qualities of an outstanding employee. The program honors individuals who have demonstrated exceptional skill and dedication in the performance of their jobs, thereby earning them the respect and admiration of students, teachers, administrators, coworkers and parents. Each year the program honors one person for his or her contribution to the school and community.

The program is designed to work similarly to the state’s Teacher of the Year program, which honors a classroom teacher who inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues and play an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school.

The West Virginia School Service Personnel Association supports this recognition by providing a $500 financial gift to the winner each year. Horace Mann Insurance also provides the winner with a $2,000 financial gift. To learn more about the program visit https://wvde.us/service-personnel-of-the-year/.