Former principal Lynne Pope and her husband Jeffrey meant a great deal to Deer Park Elementary, and now the school has shown its appreciation by naming its library after them.
Lynne opened the school and served as principal for eight years, and the foundation of the library's science section was built through contributions made when Jeffrey died. On April 11, surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, she returned to Deer Park for the library dedication.
School librarian Carol Clement spoke of "the true, special feeling Lynne gave to her students and staff. She always acknowledged how special her teachers were. She was blessed with a mate who supported her, and family and friends donated $5,000 to purchase library materials in his honor. That says a lot — everybody felt his love for Lynne and wanted to honor it."
Relatives attending the ceremony included the Popes' daughters, Christie, 20, and Laura, 13; Jeff's sister Nancy and mother Pat; Lynne's mother, Barbara Henshaw; brothers Rick and Scott and her aunt Jean.
Also present were Lynne's longtime friends Janet LeBel, former Cub Run principal, and Joanne Ibbotson, former Centre Ridge principal, plus Sully District School Board representative Kathy Smith and Fairfax County Public School administrators Alan Leis, Nancy Sprague and Mary Beth Luftglass.
They watched a video showing Deer Park being built, its flag being raised for the first time and Lynne Pope standing at the podium. A young student said, "Our principal is the heart of our school," and lots of footage illustrated the truth of those words, showing Pope welcoming students to school and parents to back-to-school nights, participating in school programs and assemblies and even leading the students in a mean macarena.
"She always did things on the basis of whether they were good for children," said Clement. "She's an encourager," added former PTA president Anitta Dudley. "I went from being a parent in the audience to PTA president. She showed me that parents are just as important as the students and teachers — we're all a team." To Pope, she said, "Look how far we've come. You've laid a great foundation for us."
A School Board proclamation declared that, through Pope's leadership, dedication and tireless hard work, she "guided, supported and encouraged students to excel in their academic studies and to become outstanding citizens. She was an extraordinary role model and mentor for teachers and staff members." It also stressed how she promoted an interest in reading and supported professional and parent libraries, too.
It noted how her husband shared her vision and supported her dedication and commitment to education. Stressing that the library would be a "lasting tribute" to them, the Board named it "The Jeffrey and Lynne H. Pope Library."
Married 17 years, Lynne Pope said her husband "talked about the kind of love that's inside and that you can spread and share with others. I've always believed that working for children is the best calling and that we should do whatever we can to help them. It's the way we leave our legacy. Thank you all for touching my life in the deepest of ways."
Pope retired in 2002, moving to Salem, Va., to be closer to her older daughter, attending college in that part of the state. She's now principal of a school with 180 students total — less than 1/3 of Deer Park's enrollment — and says its staff is child-centered and caring and the community has made her feel welcome.
Overcome by the library ceremony at Deer Park, she said, "Everything I've done has been a team effort, and to know that the contributions to the library after Jeff's death will be carried forward in this way is such a honor."