Longtime Roanoke Educator Receives Copenhaver Award

Doris Ennis receives the Copenhaver award.
Doris Ennis receives the Copenhaver award.

Doris Ennis, whose numerous positions with Roanoke City Schools in the past 50 years include teacher, principal and acting superintendent, received the prestigious Margaret Sue Copenhaver Contribution to Education Award during a luncheon at Roanoke College.

The award is given on the final day of the College’s Margaret Sue Copenhaver Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Each year, Roanoke hosts the three-day Institute,  a training program for teachers and administrators that is named for Margaret Sue Copenhaver, a retired teacher from Richmond who demonstrated a passion for teaching.

The Institute, opened in 2000, is funded by an endowed gift from Copenhaver’s sister, Helen Hanes. Each year since 2003, administrators of the Institute select a recipient for the Copenhaver Award who they believe exemplifies Copenhaver’s commitment to education.

During Wednesday’s luncheon, Ennis, a native of Greensboro, N.C., said that as a young girl, she often helped her friends with their schoolwork. But as a result of growing up in the segregated South, she learned from battered textbooks, because her school often did not receive new materials.

Her teachers told her that “no one can take education from you,” said Ennis, who developed a passion for education from her mother who was a teacher.

Ennis graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a bachelor of arts degree in English and earned a master’s degree and a certificate of advanced studies at Hollins University. She also holds administrative endorsements from Virginia’s Department of Education.

Ennis began her career as an English teacher, first at Booker T. Washington Junior High School and later at Patrick Henry High School. She also was assistant principal at William Fleming High School and principal at William Ruffner Middle School. She retired in 1993.

But her work with Roanoke schools was not over. School officials sought out Ennis for special assignments, including acting principal at Patrick Henry High School, acting superintendent for Roanoke schools and acting principal at William Fleming High School.

“Doris has no personal agenda,” said Rita Bishop, superintendent of Roanoke City Public Schools, during the luncheon. “I have never seen her be unprofessional for a single second. It’s all for the kids.”

Now Ennis continues her school-related work as a part-time climate and control consultant at William Fleming.

“Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself,” said Ennis, quoting one of her favorite statements – “and giving glory to God.”

The Institute’s sessions, last Monday through Wednesday, consisted of workshops, discussions and speakers, including Dan Brown, who is author of “The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle.” About 80 educators from schools in Virginia and other states attended.

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  1. Theres a shock. Another dark skinned Hunan, being singled out and recognized over all other deserving candidates, for the simple policy of appeasement and guilty consciences contrivedreparations for abuses laid at the negroes over 150 years ago.When will everyone wake up and realize that we are all HUMANS and there should be no further favoritism or, segregation even, to even decades old scores.

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