Year of the Educator Award Kicks Off with Ashburn Teacher

An Ashburn Elementary School teacher was paid a surprise visit Thursday by Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler and members of the Loudoun Education Foundation to award her with the first Year of the Educator prize basket.

Meghan Alice Smith, an early childhood special education teacher at Ashburn Elementary, received the visit and gift basket that included two airline tickets just after lunch Sept. 8.

The Year of the Educator initiative was created by the school division administrators in coordination with the Loudoun Education Foundation. The goal is to surprise a randomly selected teacher and support staff every month during the 2022-23 school year. Each winner will get a visit from the superintendent who will present them with a prize valued at $500 or more. 

In addition to the airline tickets donated by Southwest Airlines, Smith received a gift basket that was filled with travel-themed items, including a neck pillow, portable phone charger, plush airplane toy, passport holder and travel snacks.

“I’m just speechless. I was not expecting this at all. This is just wonderful and exciting for my students too,” Smith said, according to the school division. She said when she learned the principal of her school, Michelle Walthour, was coming by her classroom that afternoon she was curious and asked herself why.

When asked if she had any immediate thoughts about how she will use the airline tickets, Smith said that she might use the tickets to attend a family wedding in Mexico.

“We are delighted to come here today to present this very special prize to one of our excellent educators,” Ziegler stated. He pointed out she was selected out of 11,000 staff members and said, “You might want to go and buy a lottery ticket, because that makes you very lucky.”

“Our team was really excited about being part of this,” Loudoun Education Foundation Executive Director Danielle Nadler said. “When we learned the name of the randomly selected staff member, there was a feeling of palpable excitement because we just knew we were going to make someone’s day. And it aligns so perfectly with LEF’s mission of supporting the well-being of LCPS’ teachers and staff.”

LEF is securing the Year of the Educator prizes as in-kind donations or cash donations, which will be used to purchase the prizes, and joining the superintendent in presenting the prizes.

Nadler said the foundation would love to get the support of local businesses to help celebrate and pamper the teachers and staff. To donate, contact Danielle Nadler at

One thought on “Year of the Educator Award Kicks Off with Ashburn Teacher

  • 2022-09-10 at 7:41 am

    Congratulations to Meghan Alice Smith. It’s gratifying to know this awards program is underway. Too often, teachers have been run down by extremists. They’ve been called “indoctrinators,” “groomers” & worse. I think a morale boost is in order. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Southwest Airlines. It was very generous of them to donate the airline tickets. Good luck Ms. Smith for a great 2022-23 school year!

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