Ward honored by educators

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Suffolk native Ella Ward was honored during her last Virginia Board of Education meeting on Jan. 13 for her service to that agency.


Ward, who is a member of the Chesapeake City Council, served the longest term of elected office in the 140-year history of the Virginia Board of Education, according to a Virginia Board of Education Resolution of Appreciation presented to her.

“It was exciting because I didn’t even realize that I was making history until I received the award,” Ward said.

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Ward served with the Virginia Board of Education from 2003 to 2011, said Charles Pyle, Director of Communications for the Virginia Department of Education.

Governor Mark Warner appointed her in 2003, Pyle said, and Gov. Tim Kaine reappointed her in 2007.

Ward served as vice-president of the board from 2006 to 2011. She also has served as its liaison to the Advisory Board on Teacher Education and Licensure, where she worked to ensure that more people could have opportunities to become educators.

She helped to ensure students could enter teacher certification programs on the merits of their SAT, ACT and VCLA scores, as well as by passing the traditional Praxis I teacher’s exam.

“I consider it one of my major accomplishments as a Board of Education member, because so many of Virginia’s teachers had been denied the opportunity to teach in our state due to the extremely high cut scores required by the Praxis I test,” Ward said in a press release.

“The Praxis I test was not connected to subject matter content, and it was clearly not a predictor of teacher ability,” Ward said. “I was happy to help bring about this major change in our teacher certification process in Virginia during my tenure.”

Ward has spent most of her life in the field of education.

She was elected as a Chesapeake School Board member in 2000 and in 2004 and as Chesapeake City Councilwoman in 2006 and in 2010.

Prior to becoming a member of the Chesapeake School Board, Ward was an educator for Portsmouth Public Schools for 35 years teaching English and journalism at the old Woodrow Wilson High School, and she served as an assistant principal at Waters Middle and Cradock Middle Schools.

“It was all for the kids,” she said of her service. “I have a passion for education. Education is the key to getting us to where we need to be. It can get us out of poverty. It’s the only viable way. If you go to school and get your education, no one can ever take that from you.”