Linda S. Robinson
2001 - 2004It was both an honor and privilege to be the first principal of John W. Tolbert, Jr. Elementary School. To see a new school grow from the ground up was an experience that has been most rewarding. From the time I was named Principal at Tolbert until my retirement, there has always been support from everyone. As we prepared to open our doors for the first time in August of 2001, parents were giving a helping hand and encouraging our staff to provide the best education for their children.
My life in education began in 1974 as I began teaching fifth grade at Sully Elementary School in Sterling. At that time, the elementary schools in Sterling were open year round in order to deal with the increase in student population. During my years at Sully, I also taught kindergarten, first and fourth grades. I knew from my first day as a teacher that this was going to be a life long career. Each year a new class of students challenged me to be the best teacher for them. I can remember many students in my classes and could probably write a book about them.
As my skills and confidence as a teacher grew, I applied and was selected to teach in the FUTURA program. In this program I worked at three different schools, as we were housed where there was an empty room. The schools included Catoctin, Lovettsville and Leesburg Elementary Schools. The FUTURA program is the gifted and talented pull out program for our fourth and fifth grade students. In this program, I was challenged to provide activities and learning experiences that were not offered in the regular classroom setting for these students. After spending several years in this program, I was encouraged to apply for an Assistant Principal's position. I became the Assistant Principal at Guilford Elementary in Sterling. The principal of Guilford with whom I had taught with my first year of teaching mentored me! From Guilford I was given the opportunity to become the Principal at Lincoln Elementary School in Purcellville. I had never worked in a small school before, but found it very rewarding. There were only 122 students in the entire school! This school is an older school with hardwood floors and big windows. It reminded me of the elementary school I attended in Ohio.
After being selected as the Tolbert Principal, I met with the students that would attend Tolbert at their current elementary schools several times prior to the opening of our school. The students chose to be known as the Tornadoes and blue and white as the school colors. " A Community of Learners" was selected as the theme. In preparing for the opening of Tolbert, I interviewed and selected the best staff for the school. The first year was amazing in how we all came together to form a staff dedicated to the children and the community. The staff was willing to go the extra mile for our students by providing after school tutoring, parent workshops, Family Computer Nights, and school wide reading incentive programs. It was also exciting to begin new traditions at Tolbert Elementary; traditions that I hope will be continued as the school continues to grow. Some of these traditions included Tornado Challenges, Spirit Day, John W. Tolbert, Jr. Outstanding Fifth Grade Student Award and Fifth Grade Ambassadors. We also participated in the County Spelling Bee, National Geography Bee, Loudoun Arts Festival and County Chorus. Other activities included Puzzle Day, Principals in a Hat Day, Vocabulary Parades, Veterans Day Assembly, third and fourth grade programs, National Education Week activities and Cooler Math. Our Student Council provided opportunities for students to give to those less fortunate and participate in special days such as Hat Day, Twin Day and Rainbow Day.
The PTA provided our community with many activities that fostered the community spirit. Parents volunteered in their children's classrooms, the computer lab, library, and office. Parents also shared their interests and occupations with our students on Career Day. Our students' experiences at Tolbert were enriched by the active role that parents took in their education.
A career in education is the most rewarding career that I could have chosen. Thirty years went by quickly and everyone around me has enriched my life. The students are the reason to teach. Each day was a new day just waiting to happen. The excitement of seeing students, teachers and parents interact was wonderful. Watching students grow in their knowledge and their relationships was most satisfying.
Many memories go with me as I begin a new chapter in my life called retirement. I have many people to thank from my own parents that valued education, to those that encouraged me during my thirty years in Loudoun County, to the students, to staff and parents of Tolbert Elementary.
The picture below is the bear that was given to me when I retired. Inside the bear are six hearts. Each heart represents a grade level at Tolbert. The students at each grade level touch their heart and made a wish for me before it was placed inside the bear. I know retirement will be wonderful because of their many wishes. The bear is traveling with me on our trips. Thank you from my heart for being a special part of my life.
Best wishes to each of you as life continues at John W. Tolbert, Jr. Elementary School.
Page Created October, 2004