Harrisonburg educator honored by United Way

Laura Feichtinger McGrath GC ’18, director of English learner services and Title III at Harrisonburg City Public Schools, was recognized as a 2020 Bright Star by the United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Her colleagues were quick to praise her compassion, dedication, and inspirational nature during the virtual U*Nite awards ceremony in February.

Feichtinger McGrath holds a graduate certificate in restorative justice from Eastern Mennonite University and has been a panelist and speaker at the university’s annual restorative justice conference.

“She truly is a bringer of light into the lives and homes and schools of Harrisonburg city,” said Rachel Linden, former counseling director at Harrisonburg High School. “Laura is always on the front lines. She’s making sure students who recently arrived in Harrisonburg have appropriate winter clothing. She’s distributing meals. She’s welcoming new families; educating and supporting teachers on how to provide effective instruction to language learners.”

Feichtinger McGrath “cares and advocates for the students and families of HCPS, and she channels that caring in the processes and programs that she oversees for the district,” said Sal Romero, the division’s director of equity and community engagement.

In addition to her responsibilities as an education administrator, Feichtinger McGrath also serves on the boards of two local nonprofits focused on education: Skyline Literacy and the Scholars Latino Initiative. 

“We don’t all need the same things, and Laura sees and values the importance of every student’s differences. What a gift that is to the future leaders of our community,” added Laura Toni-Holsinger, executive director of the United Way.

During the awards ceremony, Linden said that Feichtinger McGrath doesn’t seek attention for the good work she does. And in that spirit of modesty, Feichtinger McGrath has used her acceptance remarks to recognize her fellow educators.

“I’m really humbled and inspired by the tireless efforts of everyone around me to do work that’s hard but work that’s right, and I feel deeply privileged to be part of this community,” she said. “Thank you United Way for this honor, and for your ongoing commitment to connecting and lifting and seeing the dignity of everyone in our community.”

This is the fourth year the United Way has recognized Bright Stars in the community. Feichtinger McGrath’s fellow awardees were Beth Bland, director of development at Valley Program for Aging Services, and Sandy Hernandez, an AirBnB property manager.

Discussion on “Harrisonburg educator honored by United Way

  1. Congratulations to an educator whose influence runs deep among individual students/families and wide throughout the community. I have fond memories of her energetic and devoted ESL instruction of my siblings and me during our first year in the USA, including several home visits and trips in her lime green VW bug!

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