Booker honored with legacy award

By Christina Dimeo, Editor

Supervisor and educator Mozell Booker was presented Saturday night (Oct. 5) with the John E. Baker Legacy Award honoring lifetime service in education and the broader community.

More than 250 people gathered at Farmington Country Club for the sold-out John E. Baker Legacy Dinner, a fundraiser for African American Teaching Fellows (AATF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of African American teachers in the Charlottesville and Albemarle school systems.

“Mozell has been impactful in the school system, which is visible in her work as a member of the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors,” said Tamara Dias, AATF executive director. “All of our honorees have always contributed to causes bigger than themselves. Mozell’s work really demonstrated the importance of serving others and leaving a legacy of people who have been impacted by her work.”

Booker was surprised to learn she would receive the award. “It’s an honor,” she said. “You don’t toot your own horn. You do what you do, you do your best, and you surround yourself with smart people. You have your values in place.”

AATF’s award and annual fundraising dinner are named after John E. Baker, the first African American elected to the Albemarle County School Board. Baker was an involved community member who strongly promoted African American teachers in local schools.

Launched in 2004, AATF grew out of concerns about race affecting education in Charlottesville schools. Members of the program receive a $5,000 forgivable loan for up to three years of schooling and commit to teaching in Charlottesville and Albemarle upon graduation. The organization also provides training and mentoring and facilitates professional connections.
Booker, 76, was born in Fluvanna and attended segregated schools in the county. She received her bachelor’s in education from Virginia Union University, a master’s in education from Michigan State, and took a year of further classes through the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.

After teaching all over the world while her husband, Jerome Booker, served in the Air Force, Booker returned to Fluvanna in 1975 and taught both upper elementary and gifted and talented children at Central Elementary.

In 1984 she was hired as the principal of both Cunningham and Fork Union Elementary Schools. Later in her career she worked in Charlottesville for 13 years as the principal of Jackson-Via, Walker, and Burnley-Moran elementary schools. After her retirement in 2001 she continued to work part-time with young Fluvanna schoolchildren.

“I always wanted to be an educator,” Booker said. “I would teach Sunday school when I was a teenager. At the time African Americans didn’t have a lot of choice as to what they could be: a teacher, maybe a nurse. Scientist, doctor – that was a struggle. So I was exposed to teaching early.”

Building relationships with students and teachers was the highlight of Booker’s career in education. “I went to graduations after I retired and figured out that I would be 70 years old before my last kids came through high school,” she said. “Seeing kids graduate is the reward. I’m serving on boards with my students now. Some of them became superintendents and principals. I still go to lunch with teachers from Jackson-Via and Walker.”

If seeing kids embrace a positive future is the best part of the job, watching them turn down a dark path is the worst.

“Some students that I worked really closely with had home environment difficulties and behavior problems,” Booker said. “In your mind you don’t want to predict that a child is heading in the wrong direction. But it was very sad when I would know that one of my children was involved in something and they were incarcerated – or dead. You say to yourself, ‘What could I have done differently?’”

Booker laughed as she remembered a notorious little boy named Bobo. “A principal told me, ‘Mozell, wait till you see Bobo. Bobo is the baddest kid we’ve ever had.’ So I went to see Bobo. He did have some problems. He was just a little boy. He would come into my office and cry like a baby. Now he’s an adult. I went to see him – he was married, he had a family and he cut hair.

That was such a joy.

“If you stay in the system long enough you can see the fruits of your labor,” she said. “You can see the tears too, but you see the rewards.”

Booker’s husband, Jerome, made history in 1979 by becoming the first African American elected to the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors. During his 16-year tenure, he was instrumental in bringing a public water system to the predominantly African American neighborhoods in Fork Union and its surrounding areas.

Booker herself made history with her Board of Supervisors career. She ran for the Fork Union seat in 2007, and in 2014 she became the first female chair of the board. Extending her family’s legacy of bringing water to the county, she helped to pass the interjurisdictional agreement with Louisa County in 2013 to create the plan for the James River water pipeline.

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138