DOBSON —A veteran educator’s career of service to others was honored Friday night as the Surry County Schools Educational Foundation recognized former principal Ralph O. Lanier with an named endowment in his honor.
Lanier was honored at the half of the Lady Golden Eagles and North Surry Greyhound ladies varsity basketball game at Surry Central High School. The ceremony recognized the first of the group’s named endowments. A reception followed in the school media center.
Foundation Board President Brent McKinney served as emcee for the ceremony with foundation Liaison Melissa White, Board members Sam Gentry and Deidre Rogers and Gary York standing on one side of Lanier as Board of Education members Brian Gates, Clark Goings, Sue Stone and Board of Education Chairman Earlie Coe and Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves stood on the other side. Veteran educator Beulah Perkins, who was honored with a named endowment in January, was also recognized.
“I am one of the one to be lucky enough to serve with Mr. Lanier,” said York before presenting the plaque. “He always sought to make a difference in the lives of others and tirelessly served the community. When we saw him at the door in the morning we know we were in good hands. The Lord has truly blessed us with him.”
Lanier credited his success to many including his family, the Board of Education and Surry Central staffers and parents as well “as some mighty good students.”
“Members of the foundation, board of education and friends, I stand before you tonight and will accept with grace and humility the comments made about me,” Lanier said. “I am very thankful. It has been my pleasure to serve as principal of this school and see its boys and girls develop into leaders and citizens in the community.”
He said the honor was the most unexpected thing to happen to him in his 93 years of life and encouraged the audience to continue to support public schools and the foundation “who will provide for the needs of our children and our children’s children.”
The foundation’s Melissa White said Lanier was the first principal at Surry Central when the school opened its doors in 1961 and served as a principal at the post for approximately 21 years. Lanier had previously served at Mountain Park.
According to White, the named endowment program is a relatively new program for the foundation. She said the minimum amount for a named endowment fund is $5,000. A “future” fund may be started with an initial contribution of $1,000 and a commitment to reach the minimum amount within five years.
“These endowments go to help fund our efforts to provide additional educational opportunities for Surry County students,” White said. “We had considered this type of program early on but felt we had to get ourselves established as an non-profit foundation first before proceeding.” McKinney earlier said the foundation has raised more than $300,000 since it began three years ago.
White explained endowment funds may be designated for specific areas including mini grants for teachers, professional development, arts and music, science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM), educational field trip assistance and other areas approved by the foundation board of trustees.
She indicated endowments and donations do not have to be for educators alone but can be made in memory of someone or to honor those who have helped out their communities. The establishment of the Surry County Schools Educational Foundation began in January 2011. White said the foundation was created by a group of local business leaders who are passionate about education and the future of Surry County. Board members believe investing in children’s education will impact the future of Surry County’s economy.
She said she the foundation will increase the level of education in the county by helping students pursue higher education and rewarding teachers with professional learning opportunities and extraordinary classroom projects. Persons may obtain more information by calling White at 336-386-8211.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.