CHARLESTON – Piedmont Elementary School has dedicated a space in honor of Jackson Kelly Education Elevators Program Founder Thomas McJunkin, who passed away last year.
Erin Stankewicz, an attorney at Jackson Kelly and an Education Elevators board member, said the space was in honor of McJunkin because he had always wanted to have a space that was for the elevators and the students to go during their time together.
“In the past, students and elevators would have to meet in the cafeteria, the playground, or in the back of a classroom,” Stankewicz said. “Now they have this dedicated space just for them.”
The dedication ceremony was held at the elementary school on June 20.
The space, which has been named the Education Elevator’s Innovation Zone, contains a desk and chair, a computer, a couch and books.
“It is cozy and inviting,” Stankewicz said. “It’s almost like a mini apartment. We wanted this space to enable the students to be creative and innovative—we want them to be able to flourish in the space.”
Sen. Joe Manchin’s wife, Gayle Manchin, spoke at the dedication ceremony about the importance of being involved with students, schools and public education.
“The ceremony was a great event, but it was also a sad day,” Stankewicz said. “It was sad because Tom wasn’t there to share the day with us.”
Ali McJunkin, the daughter of Thomas McJunkin; Rebecca Revercomb, a fifth grade teacher at the school; and Steven Knighton, the principal of Piedmont Elementary, also spoke at the dedication ceremony.
Stankewicz said the books in the JKEEP space were donated by two Jackson Kelly attorneys.
“There are $1,000 in books in the space, most of which were written by West Virginia authors,” Stankewicz said. “The books were also hand selected and each of a seal on them showing that they belong to the Education Elevator’s Innovation Zone.”
There are also educational games for the elevators and students to play with in the space.
Stankewicz said because the space is dedicated to Thomas McJunkin, there is a framed photograph of him in the space, along with a plaque donated by Jackson Kelly that states that Thomas McJunkin was a dedicated education advocate whose spirit will live on in the elevator’s dedicated space.