Boy Scouts honor 5 Alachua County educators

Area Boy Scouts give 2024 Elbert K. Fretwell award to five Alachua County educators.
Area Boy Scouts give 2024 Elbert K. Fretwell award to five Alachua County educators.
Illustration by Camille Broadway

Five Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) educators have been selected by the Five Rivers District, North Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to receive the 2024 Elbert K. Fretwell Outstanding Educator Award. 

“The Boy Scouts of America’s mission is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes, and we recognize that teachers, staff, administrators, and others involved in educating young people are valuable partners in that mission,” Kelvin Williams, CEO and scout executive of the North Florida Council, said in a press release. 

The educators, listed below, will receive their awards at Cub Scout Pack 71’s graduation ceremony at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Gainesville on June 1. 

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  • Jessica Campbell, digital multimedia teacher at Buchholz High School 
  • Brian LaPlant, assistant principal at Alachua eSchool 
  • Lindsey Lugrin, art teacher at Buchholz High School 
  • Sharon Sailor, principal at Hidden Oak Elementary School 
  • Elizabeth Williamson, assistant principal at Mebane Middle School 

This year’s nominees were all pulled from a group of people who Gary Roberts, chair of the Fretwell Award Committee, already knew from Cub Scout Pack 71, but that is set to change next year. 

This year, Pack 71 is paying for the medals and pins out of its own money to demonstrate its appreciation to the educators. All of the award recipients except Sailor are scouters, and Roberts said Sailor has been supportive of the pack and her family has a history of heavy BSA involvement. 

Elbert B. Fretwell
Courtesy of Scouting America Elbert B. Fretwell

The recipients’ nominations were evaluated by a selection committee including a retired GRU employee, a retired mechanical engineer and VA chaplain, and a retired UF history professor. 

Roberts said the award has existed for a decade, but to his knowledge the Five Rivers District has never used it. Roberts said this year’s hyper-local awarding is a pilot program so it can be expanded across the district next year.  

The Five Rivers District includes Alachua, Marion, Columbia, Baker, Union, Hamilton, Suwannee, LaFayette, Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy counties, but Roberts said starting small has allowed him to run through the process and identify issues and solutions.

Next year, when the award is introduced across the district, about 30 troops and packs will have the opportunity to recognize their educators. 

The Fretwell award was created to recognize those who work to “educate and integrate the principles of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, helping to develop character and leadership qualities in young people.” 

Roberts said he hopes the North Florida Council is hoping the award will help strengthen BSA’s partnership with teachers, increasing the program’s recruitment. 

“The more we could do for our schoolteachers, I think, the better off we are as a society,” Roberts said. 

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