Lett Scholars: Assuring excellence in teaching for the future

Stretching the Point

Shown left to right: Jordan Moody, Brittany Lahr and John McMillan Jr. (Photo by Pat Finneran, NNPS)

Receiving the Lett Scholarship allowed me to focus on my future and gave me confidence that others felt I would make a successful teacher,” says Brittany Lahr, first recipient of the Wayne D. Lett Scholarship.

The Wayne D. Lett Scholarship Program is a merit-based award of $10,000 given over four years to a Newport News public school senior who plans to become a public school teacher. The program has been offering scholarships to students for the past 14 years. It is administered by the Newport News Education Foundation (NNEF) as a tribute to Wayne D. Lett, Ed.D., a former superintendent of Newport News Public Schools. Financial support is provided by generous donations from foundation members and Drs. Wayne and Rebecca Lett. The recipient must commit to teach in Newport News for three consecutive years after graduation. The recipient will also have the option to complete a student teaching assignment in the school division.

John McMillan Jr., a member of the NNEF, has served as chair of the Lett Scholar committee for many years. “It is always a difficult decision to choose the person we feel will best help educate the next generation of students,” he says. “The student benefits from financial assistance and a guaranteed job, and the schools benefit from the services of ‘homegrown talent,’” he adds.

McMillan is originally from Arlington and served in the Air Force for 20 years. He then spent 24 years in industry. Now retired, he enjoys golf and is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Denbigh. In addition to serving on the NNEF, he also is a member of the Thomas Nelson Community College Board as the Newport News representative.

Jordan Moody is the 2021 recipient of the Lett Scholarship. Moody graduated in June from Woodside High School and was the student representative to the Newport News School Board. He was also chair of the Superintendent’s Advisory Group on Education and a member of the Mayor’s Youth Commission. At Woodside, Moody participated in many organizations, including the Student Athletic Leadership Team, serving as its president; Athletes in Action, serving as its president; and the Principal’s Advisory Committee. He was a Tri-City Youth Foundation Executive Board member and Scholastic Chair, plus a Newport News Young Adult Police Commission member. He was inducted into the National Honor Society of High Scholars in 2019…and he plays saxophone.

Moody plans to attend Norfolk State University and major in history, politics, government and African-American history. “I have always enjoyed learning about the past,” he says. “I credit my experience with the School Board strengthening my passion for education. I try to serve as a role model for my brother who is five years younger.” Moody also serves as a minister at his church.

Moody’s family likes to vacation together. Annual cruises have become a tradition. About 20 family members are planning a trip to the Bahamas. “It’s fun to watch my family enjoying themselves,” he says.

The first recipient, Brittany Lahr, used her scholarship at Christopher Newport University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. She also has a Master’s degree in teaching. She teaches world geography, history and English as a Second Language at Denbigh High School. “Newport News is a ‘port city’ and has a large refugee population,” she says. “I admire these students who are learning an unfamiliar language.” Now in her 10th year of teaching, she was named a 2020 Teacher of the Year. She has 90 to 150 students each year. 
“I prefer the classroom over virtual learning,” she says. However, she predicts changes. “There will be exciting times ahead,” she adds.

Lahr grew up in an “Air Force family.” She attended a British school and has been in Newport News since the eighth grade. She has had the opportunity to study abroad in Belize and has lived in Italy. Her hobby is photography, especially wildlife and nature.

Dr. Lett was an outstanding educator who retired after 34 years of service in public education.

2021 Scholarship Recipient:
Jordan Moody
First Lett Scholar: Brittany Lahr
Newport News Education Foundation
Address: 12465 Warwick Blvd., Newport News VA 23606
Contact: John McMillan Jr., Lett Scholar Committee Chair
Phone: 757-877-7618Email: johnmc10@verizon.net
Contact: Dr. Robin Nelheubel, president
Phone: 757-240-2202
Contact: Pat Finneran, director, corporate and government relations, Newport News Public Schools
Phone: 757-591-4936

About Nancy P. Sykes 87 Articles
Nancy was a devoted writer and friend of Oyster Pointer for more than 25 years. She wrote more than 250 features during those years. She always said she met some fascinating people during her many interviews. Her sparkling personality and joyful conversations could be felt in her writing. Nancy will be greatly missed by all who knew her, especially her Oyster Pointer family.

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