PULLMAN—The couple whose company is the longtime sponsor of the state’s Teacher of the Year Award have themselves been honored by the WSU College of Education.

Charles and Virginia Beresford of Manson, Wash., received the 2008 Advocate for Education Award. It was presented by Dean Judy Nichols Mitchell at the college’s Scholarship and Excellence celebration on Sept. 27. 

“Their contribution has had an amazing influence on our public schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson in a message of congratulations. “The Beresford Company has made it possible for our state to publicly honor hundreds of outstanding educators and inspire new generations of teachers.”

Charles Beresford founded the company, which specializes in flooring for schools. The 50-year-old firm, with offices in Seattle, Portland, Spokane and Newberg, Ore., has done business with more than 200 of Washington’s 296 school districts.

The company has sponsored the Teacher of the Year Award since 1994, after a request from the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Asked to explain their continuing support for the program, Virginia Beresford said: “Sometimes you do a thing because it’s the right thing to do.”

Charles Beresford has served for 10 years on the board of the Wenatchee-based North Central Education Service District.  The state’s nine service districts each chooses teachers of the year, who become finalists in the state competition.  The state winner goes on to a national competition.

The Beresfords have four children. Virginia Beresford, a school volunteer, operated her own preschool for 25 years—a tradition continued by her daughter, Joan McGovern. Son Craig and daughter Deborah Beresford Claggett have followed in their father’s footsteps by working for the company (as has one grandson). Son Michael has a retirement job driving a school bus.  

Charles Beresford has always insisted on offering safe flooring products that are healthy for kids, said Merle Kirkley, director of sales and education services for the company. He noted that Beresford has been willing to do business with school districts that larger companies would find too small.

“The smaller school districts, like Manson, are probably the most interesting,” said Charles Beresford. “The schools are the social center of the communities. They have weddings there, they have funerals there.”  

The WSU College of Education began honoring advocates for education in 2007, in order to call attention to individuals and organizations who personify the phrase. The first recipient was former state Rep. Don Cox.   Nominations can be sent to Amy Cox at amycox@wsu.edu, phone 509-335-7853.