INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Virginia (Ginger) L. Topp, a 5th grade teacher at Saint Edward’s School, has been named the holder of the prestigious Richardson Family Foundation Chair for Distinguished Teaching.
Topp has been teaching for 33 years in both public and independent schools and 20 of those years have been at Saint Edward’s School.
Established by the Richardson Foundation in 2000, the Richardson Family Foundation Chair pays tribute to a member of the Saint Edward’s School faculty who demonstrates the highest standards of excellence in teaching. The holder of this prestigious Chair consistently demonstrates a keen intellect, mastery of subject knowledge, outstanding teaching performance and a clear commitment to students and has captured the respect and admiration of his or her students and colleagues.
Topp is a 1978 graduate of Monmouth University in New Jersey and holds a triple certification in teaching. She is certified in Elementary – 8th grade Education, Special Education and in Pre-School Education. In addition to Saint Edward’s School she has taught at Aspen Country Day
School, Indian River Academy in Fort Pierce and at Beachland Elementary in Vero Beach. Topp has been nominated for the St. Lucie County Teacher of the Year Award, the Education Foundation Award of Excellence and Disney’s American Teacher Award. She has twice been a finalist for the Education Foundation Award of Excellence and has received the Mainstream Teacher of the Year Award, the Rotary Club Teacher of the Year and Teacher of the Month awards and the Becker Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2006 Topp attended the Florida Council of Independent Schools’ Academy for High Performing Teachers.
“I knew I wanted to teach when I was one,” Ginger Topp says. “It’s a gift and I am blessed. After more than 30 years of teaching, I still love to teach. I love when I see that a child has learned something new – when I can pull things from them in a discussion and get them to dig deeper. I see their enthusiasm. I want to see and hear their thoughts.”
Topp has taught 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade. She currently instructs all Saint Edward’s 5th grade Literature classes and Language classes (grammar, vocabulary and writing) which together allow her to nurture both a love of literature and a mastery for writing in her young charges.
“I love for the children to write with and about the novels that we study,” she explains as she reviews some of the 5th grade reading list.
In addition to the classics – with her classes reading Shades of Grey, Where the Red Fern Grows, Tuck Everlasting, The Phantom Tollbooth and 4 Perfect Pebbles, among other books, Mrs. Topp tries to keep up with what children are reading outside of school. “I read what’s new on the market so I know what the students are reading outside of class.”
Topp is also the Lower School Dean of Students, organizes the Care to Share Program which brings students to visit the elderly in nursing homes, and is the School Safety Patrol leader.
“I have very high expectations,” she says. “I am firm with the students, especially in the
beginning of the year. Toward the end, I am able to loosen up as the students realize what is expected of them.”
“I came for my children,” she says of her decision to teach at Saint Edward’s. “I wanted this education for them. I stayed because of the people I work with. The Heads of the Lower School have been huge supporters – allowing me to teach. It is what I love to do.”
Topp and her husband, Gary, live in Sebastian and have two grown children, son, Gerrit, from the Saint Edward’s Class of 2002 and daughter, Danielle, from the class of 2007.
The Richardson Family and Saint Edward’s School have enjoyed a long history dating back to the School’s early years and continuing today. Dan K. Richardson and his late wife, Marjorie Hopwood, are grandparents to nine Saint Edward’s alumni and great-grandparents to two current students, Devon Kahle ’13 and Grace Kahle ’16. Dolf Kahle ’85, grandson of Dan and Marjorie Richardson, and the father or Devon and Grace, is a current member of the School’s Board of Trustees. Family members Sandy Kahle, Susan Hopkins, Carter Hopkins and John Luther have previously served on the Board.
The recipient of the Richardson Family Foundation Chair is considered a spokesperson for and public representative of the faculty, leads the faculty processional during graduation ceremonies, and represents the faculty at the annual National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
convention. The recipient of the Richardson Family Foundation Chair holds the honor for two years. Previous holders include Joanie Wachter, Barklie Eliot, Barbara Beckham and Richard Hartley.