Group of people stand smiling at the camera in Rotunda dome room. Wreaths and garland hang in the background.

School of Education and Human Development's Beth Williams Receives UVA's Highest Employee Honor

The Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contributor Award is the highest individual employee honor given by the University.

Photo: Beth Williams (far left) stands with Leonard Sandridge (center) and other award winners. The following is an excerpt from a story originally published on the University's Human Resources website.

The highest individual employee award at the University is named in honor of Leonard W. Sandridge, who was an avid champion of UVA staff and who dedicated 44 years of service to the school. He joined the University in 1967 as internal audit staff and held a number of positions until he became Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 1993.

This award recognizes an outstanding University staff or team member who demonstrates dedication to service through individual efforts, group contributions, and commitment to our larger community.

Winners of this prestigious award not only contribute to the University in a positive way, but also enhance internal or public regard for the services provided by UVA and the Commonwealth at large. Winners' dedication to service impacts students, patients, various clients, management, fellow employees, and/or the community.

The award winners for the academic division are Paula Campbell, Jason Freeman, David Glover and Beth Williams. For UVA Health, the winners are Karen Finke, Jolene Kidd, Beth Mehring, Rachel Nauman, Matthew Robertson and Janet Tillage. For UVA’s College at Wise, Rosa Bott earned the honor.

Beth Williams smiling at camera

Beth Williams

Beth Williams, the Education and Outreach Director at Virginia Literacy Partnerships (VLP) in the School of Education and Human Development, stands as a beacon of impactful service to the Commonwealth. VLP is dedicated to serving the Commonwealth by providing evidence-based practices to improve the lives of over 25,600 pre-school through Grade 3 public school Virginia teachers and the students and families they serve. Beth's work embodies research into practice, one of the major purposes of state funded public universities such as UVA. Here are a few reasons Beth was nominated for and earned the Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contributor Award:

  1. Increased Leadership: Responding to the Virginia Literacy Act (VLA) and VLP's expanded outreach, Beth took on increased leadership during the 2023-2024 academic year. Collaborating with the Virginia Dept. of Education, she trained and mentored new employees, overseeing hotline responses and managing the implementation of a new Statewide screener. Beth's leadership extended to training new staff, implementing professional development for educators, and mentoring novice presenters both virtually and in-person.
  2. Dedication to UVA and the Commonwealth: Beth's impact extends far beyond the VLP office, influencing over 30 staff member, 400 in-service teachers, principals and other educators, and countless students every day. Her dedication to service is exemplified through professional development sessions attended by thousands, directly supporting Virginia's young learners. Beth's commitment to UVA shines through her dedicated service to the Commonwealth.
  3. Research into Practice: Beth represents the University by directly supporting public-school teachers and administrators, developing materials for public-facing websites and creating webinars and in-person presentations. Her work ensures that public schools in the Commonwealth have access to the latest evidence-based literacy practices, enhancing UVA's image and improving service to the citizens of Virginia.
  4. Embodying Support: Beyond her official responsibilities, Beth consistently seeks avenues to support her colleagues and contributes invaluable feedback to literacy support and outreach work at VLP. Her voluntary efforts extend to supporting early childhood education programs, embodying a commitment to creating effective systems of support for large groups.

Beth Williams, who earned her Ed.D. from the UVA School of Education in 2015, is at the forefront of literacy education in Virginia and embodies the spirit of the Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contributor Award. Her increased leadership, dedication to UVA and the Commonwealth, commitment to research into practice, and unwavering support for colleagues paint a portrait of excellence. Beth's positive attitude and supportive attitude make the VLP office a hub of productivity and enjoyment, leaving an indelible mark on the state-level work and fostering a collaborative spirit within the UVA team. In every aspect of her role, Beth exemplifies the highest standards of service and contribution.

To read more about the other winners, read the full story on the University's Human Resources website.

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Audrey Breen