CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Lionel Hope Jr. said every day at his job is a new opportunity to help and encourage children.

Hope, an early childhood assistant teacher at Highlawn Elementary School in Cabell County, was honored for his efforts with students in the award of 2019 West Virginia School Service Personnel Employee of the Year at the state Board of Education meeting Wednesday in Charleston.

“I try to encourage our kids, each and every one,” Hope said Wednesday.

West Virginia Department of Education

Hope Jr.

“Every morning I walk in that door I go in there with the wanting to encourage a kid, try to show them the right way and try to be an example for them.”

Hope has worked for Cabell County Schools for 11 years with eight years being at Highlawn Elementary School in Huntington.

Highlawn Elementary School Principal Robin Harmon spoke to the importance of Hope’s actions Wednesday.

“He takes the time to make the time for everyone. It’s just not a job for him, it’s part of who he is. Mr. Hope, we thank you,” she said.

“He helps all students and staff member. He does everything. He’s not only an assistant teacher in the kindergarten classroom but he helps everyone. He is caring and kind.”

A release by the WVDE said Hope has served under four different principals, earning the highest marks in every category of his annual evaluations.

The department stated among the reasons for the high evaluations is his ability to consistently create a positive atmosphere for students, their families, and the whole school community.

The board of education noted Hope’s involvement with kids through his music skills, gardening skills, and community endeavors.

Hope had a message for his students on Wednesday that he said he delivers to them every day whether he’s helping them with homework or with getting them food.

“Don’t give up,” he said. “Try again. three little words, just try again.

“That’s what I live and breath for. To help and encourage these kids to do the best in everything they do. Don’t give up, just keep on trying. Try, try again and they will get through.”

The award was established in 2010 by the West Virginia Board of Education to recognize outstanding school service personnel employees including aides, bus drivers, cooks, custodians, maintenance workers, office workers, and other school service personnel who best exemplify the qualities of an outstanding employee.

A $500 financial gift is provided with recognition by the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association as well as a $2,000 gift by Horace Mann Insurance.

To learn more about the program click HERE.