Each year the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce chooses the Educator of the Year and this time year it chose is Rosemont Middle School history teacher Lynn McGinnis.
McGinnis was so moved when chamber members surprised him at Rosemont and notified him of the award that he couldn’t speak.
“I felt so humbled,” McGinnis said, of being recognized.
McGinnis said he shares the award with every teacher and member in the community that have helped him in the school projects he spearheads.
After he was notified of his award, McGinnis went home and made out a list of all the chamber members that have contributed money and time to help him with Rosemont activities.
McGinnis is best known for his tireless efforts in giving students a chance to walk through history with the Civil War Days and the American Freedom Tour.
Once a year, Rosemont’s upper field becomes a Civil War education camp where students move from tent to tent and hear Robert E. Lee, a Civil war era doctor and woman speak on what the war was like and how they lived their lives. Students could even see John Wilkes Booth and President Abe Lincoln together, discussing the political and social atmosphere that led to the president’s assassination.
The American Freedom Tour allows students the chance to travel to the East Coast where they could walk the streets and battlefields they had only read about in books. Each trip is slightly different; one year students may trace the steps of blue and gray soldiers, the next year they may be are standing on the deck of Old Ironsides.
These two events seem as if they are easily planned and executed, but McGinnis, along with fellow teacher Chris Collins-Cross, knock on many doors to get donations, and working around the clock to raise funds to offset the costs of the American Freedom Tour.
“There are business members in the community that I can count on to help me out,” he said. “We get a lot of support for the Civil War Day, too.”
Community and chamber members also support McGinnis’ chess club as well.
This is McGinnis’ tenth year as a teacher. He grew up a “military brat” and attended grades third through fifth in England.
He served in the U.S. Air Force and received his degree in history from Biola University. He worked in the private sector, several years in the banking business and later as vice president of business with Dunn Edwards Paint Co.
“When you get out of school and go to work you are not worth what they pay you. Then you work for 20 to 25 years [and] you have a good run where the pay equals your experience. Then there comes a time when you are worth so much more than you are being paid,” McGinnis said.
He had reached the point where he felt the best way to use all the knowledge he had accumulated over the years was through teaching. He substituted for one year when he met and became friends with Sally Buckley who was then principal of Glenoaks Elementary. Mable Morris, then principal of Rosemont, hired McGinnis as a full-time teacher a year after he began substituting. Later Buckley moved on as Rosemont’s principal.
McGinnis plans to retire at the end of this school year. He wants to spend more time with his family, daughter Trisha, son-in-law Tim and granddaughters Megan and Taylor. He said he was thankful for the chamber honor but thought that many of the accolades being thrust upon him should really be directed to his wife, Mojean.
“I get a lot of credit for the work my wife does,” he said. “She volunteers every day to run the food cart and because of that we get $25 a day donated to our American Freedom fund.”
Mojean also takes the helm with donated recyclables and can be seen running the show on the day of the American Freedom rummage sale.
“By the end of the [rummage sale] morning, that day I am done,” he said. “She takes over.”
McGinnis also points out that Rosemont teachers are supportive, with the majority of teachers involved in some form of school/student project.
“We have a wonderful faculty,” he said.
McGinnis was awarded the Educator of the Year at the CV Chamber of Commerce Recognition Banquet on Thursday night.