Virginia Wade Named Educator of the Year

Virginia Wade

Education and psychology professor Virginia Wade of Marymount California University can now add Educator of the Year to her many career accomplishments.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula Rotary Club hosted the 41st Annual Educator of the Year awards, honoring Wade and eight other educators for their outstanding contributions in support of student success at a gala reception and dinner at the Palos Verdes Golf Club on April 13.

The annual event celebrates the teaching profession and raises funds for college scholarships for local high school seniors. The honorees are nominated by their peers at their respective institutions based on their exemplary leadership, creativity, and commitment to their students.

Wade, whose Marymount tenure spans 47 years, started at MCU as the founder and director of the Marymount College Preschool, a college laboratory school designed to serve neighborhood children and families, as well as college students interested in pursuing teaching careers. After 25 years with the preschool, she moved on to multiple administrative roles with the college in advising, academic affairs and student life, alongside teaching, of course—her real passion.

“It’s a true gift to spend one’s life working with students,” she said.

And they would tend to agree. Wade has a knack for creating a supportive culture and affirming space for her students.

In her acceptance speech, Wade shared an email she received recently from a student that read: “One thing I take away from your classes is learning how to put myself into another person’s shoes and understand why someone is the way they are when you try to see from their perspective.”

“I was honored and moved to tears,” Wade said.

It’s clear she takes pride in ensuring her students see the world a little differently on the last day of class from when they first walked in. They don’t have to agree with her or anybody else for that matter, but they need to respect one another’s views and beliefs.

“We need to listen to each other and develop empathy for the wide range of experiences we all have and for the individual differences in how we study and learn,” she said.

Perhaps her biggest role, though, is that of motivator.

“When we motivate our students to want to learn, to find excitement in a major, and to see the value of their education, degree completion is more likely achieved,” she said.

It’s a trait she models in her own life. In 2012, Wade completed a doctoral program in educational leadership, helping her reach the pinnacle of her education career to become a full professor of psychology.

“One is never too old!” she said.